Peer pressure. It’s a word that can conjure up visions of commercials in the mid-80s of kids with little baggies of weed and Nancy Regan toting around the infamous ‘Just Say No’ button. No matter how lame or cliche it may sound, the reality it our kids face it on a daily basis. Teens are confronted with decisions to use substances, bully, chose silence when viewing something wrong, self harming, destructive relationships, etc. It’s tough being a teen. How we dialogue and equip them is important. Let’s look at some powerful ways in how to teach our kids to deal with peer pressure.
So I’m going to say….let’s chat about the pressure they face every-single-day…
The truth is, peer pressure can get a bad wrap. It’s always viewed as a negative, when in fact it can be a positive. Did you know positive peer pressure exists? It does. The bummer is that it’s less prevalent than the negative, but it is out there. This is an area where encouragement, dialogue and insight are important. Young people face insane pressure to get into negatives: relationships, substance use, bullying, self harm and heaps of other destructive decisions. When they stand on the front lines and decisions have to be made, our words and how we equipped them WILL play a role in their decision making.
How to teach our kids to deal with peer pressure:
- Family time: Eat meals together and use this time to your advantage. Chat about situations they may be faced with and provide healthy examples of how they should react. Ex: if they’re asked to send inappropriate pictures to someone (clothed or unclothed), if they witness someone being taunted on-line (or if they are being bullied), how to react (and their thoughts) if asked to drink/ smoke, etc. Chat about what their opinions on these topics and how they would react. Having an informal, non-threatening platform to do a few run-throughs is what our kids need.
- Peer Peeps: Get them plugged into a church / synagogue youth group. Having a foundation of faith, accountability and substance in relationships and that there is more to life then
them holds great weight. Many faith based youth programs also offer volunteer opportunities, mission trips and projects that focus on lots of positive goodness.
- Volunteer: Get them plugged into forms of volunteering with kids in similar age groups. Kids who serve are typically on line with making better choices. I love connecting different types of kids with similar hearts to give and serve; it’s amazing what great friendships can be established. Check out your local animal shelters, soup kitchen, hospital, etc. for volunteer opportunities.
When I was a teenager….
Our kids know we were teens once (insert eye roll), but the truth is it isn’t the same as when you were a teenager. The constant pull and pressure via social media sites, texting and screen shots place their experience in the here and now as their own. There is pressure that we cannot wrap our heads around that is 24-7. We coul
d step away from the craziness. It’s hard for them, literally and physically to get away from it.
There is TREMENDOUS negative peer pressure associated with social media, incessant texting and constant exposure to all things superficial. Limit cell access. Place restrictions that may not be
well received, but it has overwhelming benefits. Every day there is the buzzing in the ears of:
- You’re not cool if you’re not at the party, hangout, activity, etc. that’s all over social media that weekend
- There’s something wrong with you if you’re not drinking and smoking as a teenager
- If you have’t had sex yet you’re weird
These are only a few of the many negative messages our kids receive verbally and via different forms of social media. We have to fight for them to receive positive messages and for positive peer pressure to be a possibility. The more positives they receive in their peer group the better. There’s the feeling a sense of worth in doing something that is outside of them and being part of something bigger than them that creates an even stronger buffer between them and negatives.
Positive peer pressure, positive peer pressure, positive peer pressure…..
You seriously couldn’t pay me to be a teenager in today’s world. I just sounded super old saying that, but it’s true. There is SO much our kids have to contend with that did not exist fifteen or so years ago. It’s here and it isn’t going anywhere so WE have to fight for THEM!
Chat on what is and isn’t of value. Try to make this informal: in the car, out for ice cream, when clearing the table after dinner, etc. Dialogue on the positives have to be ongoing.
Explore ways to have them connected to positive forms of peer pressure. It’s hard to be a teen, whether they acknowledge it or not they need you to fight for them and to have their back. Wishing you a week of positives, dodging the negatives and taking some time to enjoy the beauty of summer.
Peace, Love & Goodness!