How to prepare your teenager against bad PEER pressure?
Do you remember when we were teenagers and faced peer pressure to bunk a class, smoke a cigarette, see adult images or even touch or be touched? Why didn’t we go to our parents and tell them what we faced? Most of us thought it was new to our generation and never thought our parents must have faced it and yet if you talk to your parents, they felt such peer pressure and temptations too.
Secondly, how many of us are actually “assertive” and have learnt the art of saying NO? Since most of us are not as assertive as we would like to be, it is a bad assumption that our children (especially teens -only God knows how toddlers are so assertive) will be able to say NO to their friends when tempted.
I am writing this step by step guide to approach your teenage child with these sensitive subjects. Is this the only way? Of course not, it’s one way and rather have some guidelines than nothing at all.
I appreciate and salute your courage if you discuss these issues with your child, I know it isn’t easy but better US than an outsider.
- GOAL SHEET: It is a fantastic idea to start these series of discussions with a long term goal sheet for you and your child (yes you need to fill one too). Oftentimes a teenager’s mind is so overwhelmed with lots of things happening in his or her life that it is quite difficult to envision the broader future. So this sheet should be more about being aware that there is a huger perspective to life which is outside the current circle of friends and relationships. Also, a wonderful idea is to add tips like you can have a proper satisfying relationship once you are an adult (thereby stressing the point that you will eventually get to enjoy everything in life, there is no need to hurry).
So, fill a goal sheet for yourself and let your teenager fill one for him. You can download Goal-sheet for Parents and Goal-sheet for teenager by clicking the links below:
- IDENTIFY PEER PRESSURE: The next step is to talk about what peer pressure means, a lot of times they are unable to identify peer pressure. You can talk about how even as an adult you may feel peer pressure sometimes and how it affects you and your relationships.
Take some time to talk to your child about how peer pressure has affected you in your adult life. You may use these pointers below:
- How do you handle peer pressure in your adult life?
- How did you handle peer pressure as a child?
- How does both positive and negative peer pressure from friends affect you?
- How do you deal with people who try to pressure you?
- Do you prepare yourself before you go into situations where you know people may pressure you?
This can be a superb icebreaker which can lead to your child sharing any example of how he faced such pressure and how he felt about it. Please refrain from giving any advice or huge reactions here, this will scare them away. Just nod your head and listen to him/her.
A person trying to use pressure may use one of such lines I am listing below. Let your child read these so they can identify pressure.
- No one will ever know
- Come on, this may be our only chance.
- Your parents will never find out.
- Trust me, you won’t regret it.
- Everybody else is doing it.
- It will be fun.
- Just this once?
- It’s not that big a deal.
- Nothing bad will happen.
- Don’t you love me?
- SPECIFIC SITUATIONS: Next, you can use some of the situations I am writing below and ask him to answer the questions below. The goal is for him/her to understand that each of these scenarios has peer pressure involved. Our first goal is for our child to identify when they are facing peer pressure, once they do that we have to train them to be assertive and say NO.
Maya messages Rahul on his cell phone after school. Maya wants Rahul to come over to her house as her parents are not home. They can do anything they want. Rahul doesn’t want to, but Maya writes, “Come on, everyone else is doing it. “
What is Rahul thinking? What can he text to Maya?
Deep really wants Sweety to come over to his house on Friday night so he and Sweety can be alone. For the past few weeks Deep has been pressuring Sweety to become sexually involved. Sweety does not want to and she had decided to wait until she has finished college to have sex. Deep says, “Please, we will not get another chance like this before. “
What is Sweety thinking? What can she tell Deep?
Raj is meeting his best friends after dinner, they have started offering him cigarettes since they all smoke. They make fun of Raj for not smoking. Shishir tells him, “Why don’t you try it? Smoking makes you look cool.” Raj has decided not to start smoking.
What can Raj tell his friends? How can he prepare himself before meeting them?
- LEARNING ASSERTIVE SKILL: This is the most important skill for us to learn and also teach our children. Believe me, it can be learnt and it is imperative that we practice it with our children in a non-threatening manner. It will be much more difficult for kids to say NO when they are with their friends and their emotions and egos are involved. But with enough practice, they will learn to say NO to bad influences like smoking, drinking, unwanted touch and even sex before they are ready.
Step 1: Say NO
Step 2: Say how the pressure makes you FEEL.
Ask, “why are you still pressuring me after I said NO?”
Step 3: Pretend to be deaf and refuse to discuss the matter.
Suggest leaving the place and doing something else.
As parents or teachers we can create various role plays and act out with kids about different situations they may face where they can be pressurized like smoking, drinking, getting physical, being violent, taking drugs etc. They can be taught to practice saying NO and using their assertive skills in each situation. Once they are prepared they will be able to face situations like these much better rather than if they are caught unawares.
Last but not the least we as PARENTS and care-givers will have to keep ensuring our kids that we are with them no matter what and also show this in our actions. A child who feels loved, cared for and truly accepted with all his flaws is less likely to fall prey to outsiders.
The author of this article, Kshama Dudpuri is an enthusiastic reader and writer,education and parenting influencer, founder of POISE7 and wants to bring a change in the compassion meter in this world.