When you have teenagers, there are so many things you tend to worry about. Have you taught them well enough? Are they listening when you talk? Are they really sleeping over their friend’s house or are they out somewhere they shouldn’t be? As a parent or guardian, you can only hope that you’ve raised them well enough to this point to know right from wrong, especially when it comes to peer pressure. Every child will go through it at some point in their lives, but with proper guidance, you can help them come out unscathed.
Types of Peer Pressure
There are several types of peer pressure, but the two main ones are direct and indirect. Direct peer pressure comes from friends and acquaintances telling your child to do something and even potentially bullying them if he or she doesn’t follow along. Indirect peer pressure occurs when your child feels like in order to be “cool” or to fit in with the “in crowd” they have to do something that falls out of their comfort zone. Most teens will encounter both types at least once, but there are steps you can take to prevent them falling into these childhood traps.
- Instill self-confidence in your children from the time they’re old enough to understand what you’re saying. Focus on building them up from the inside out, letting them know that they’re enough just as they are. We all have shortcomings, but focus on their strengths.
- Teach them that it’s okay to say no. No is a very strong two letter word that many teens have a hard time saying — to people other than their parents, of course. Let your child know that if they’re uncomfortable, saying no is perfectly acceptable — even encouraged.
- Let them know that it’s okay to be a leader and not a follower. Many children think they have to follow others in order to be accepted. Teach them that it’s stronger to be a leader, especially one with good morals and intentions, than to be a follower who will be judged with the company they keep.
Discussing the Important Topics
There are a multitude of topics that will come up in regards to peer pressure. The two most common for teens, though, are sex and drugs.
At some point, your teen is going to encounter drugs. Perhaps their friends are using or they hear about it through acquaintances, but it will happen. You can talk until you’re blue in the face about the repercussions of doing drugs, but you can’t stop your teen if they decide to experiment. If they do experiment, or worse, become addicted. Don’t stop supporting them. Be upfront with them and if necessary, find them the help they need. The earlier you intervene the better. If you’re in California, for example, you can find treatment near Ventura. A strong support system is essential when it comes to drug use and abuse.
Girls will likely fall under peer pressure to have sex, because their friends are having or talking about it. The best thing you can do to empower your daughter is to teach her that it’s her body and nobody else holds any control over it. That’s not to say you’re encouraging sex or abstinence, but you’re letting her know she has that power in her hands and nobody should ever make that decision for her. Know that no matter how hard you try, from those conversations about substance abuse and birth control, there are always going to be circumstances out of your control. You have to have the trust that you raised your kids right, and let them know you’ll be there no matter what.