Every t(w)een encounters peer pressure at some point in time, but in an age where social media and texting provide constant connectedness with their friends, the challenge is amplified.
How can you make sure the desire to fit in doesn’t cause your child to engage in risky behavior? How can you enable them to make good choices?
First, remember you still have influence in your adolescent’s life – as much as they lead you to believe otherwise. Studies have found authoritative parenting, in which parents provide warm nurturing alongside clear boundaries and discipline, yields more independent-minded children who are better able to stand up for themselves.
To build a buffer for your child from the negatives of peer pressure, try the following tools.
Appreciate them for who they are and acknowledge the good choices they make. Let them know they can come to you, too, if they’re feeling pressure to do something that seems wrong.
Affirm Independent Thinking
Allowing your child to disagree with you prepares them to disagree with others.
On the other hand, shutting down their opinions could set your child up for accepting that same treatment from his or her peers. Learning how to respectfully disagree is a social skill that will serve them well.
You know the type of situations you are afraid your teen may face when they could be in a tough spot. Work with them on how they will respond to others in these circumstances, even as far as having specific phrasing in mind.
Have a plan Coming up with a backup together will help your child feel prepared in uncomfortable or dangerous situations. For example, let them know you are always available to come get them, no questions asked, if they feel unsafe.
Offer to Take the Blame
If a simple “no” isn’t working for your child, it can help them to be able to say something like, “my parents wouldn’t like it and they have ways of finding out.”
Meet Their Friends
If issues or problems arise, share your concerns with your child, and/or the friend’s parents.
Problems often occur late at night when teens are isolated in their rooms. Setting the expectation that screens will be off by a certain hour and devices will be kept outside of teens’ bedrooms gives kids not only a better night’s sleep, but also a respite from peer input.
Of course, not all peer pressure is bad. Positive pressure is seen as encouragement – to join an academic club at school or try a new stunt in their sport.
Spending time around children their own age is a fundamental part of adolescent development for t(w)eens, and they still need you to be there for them.