Teens need to be liked and included by friends.
And in all sorts of ways, friends can pressure your child to conform and get involved in what they’re doing.
Not all peer pressure is bad. If your child’s friends have good values, they can influence your child to do well in school and avoid the bad elements of teen culture. That’s a big IF.
The bad peer pressure can include encouraging your child to get involved in sex, alcohol, drugs, bullying, criminal activities, and violent video games. I don’t have to tell you what the consequences are. Yes, it’s scary. Sometimes tragic.
There’s really only one way your child can stand up to peer pressure. Their sense of who they are has to be strong enough that they can feel comfortable opting out when they sense they’re being urged to do something harmful. Their identification with your best values has to be real enough that they remain loyal to their best self.
In other words, strong self-esteem. They have to like who they are, so they aren’t dependent on other kids for approval, so they feel fine going their own way instead of following the herd.
A child can build strong self-esteem on their own, but this is uncommon. It helps if parents and adult mentors coach them:
- Set an adult example of strong values, self-confidence, and self-esteem.
- When the circumstance is right, share your life stories that illustrate what’s important, without making it a lecture.
- Encourage and support your child to get involved in challenging activities.
- Give specific behavior-based feedback when your child does something admirable.
- From time to time, express affirmation of your child’s strengths.
I don’t have to tell you how important it is for a child to make it to adulthood while avoiding the many pitfalls of adolescence. Way more important than straight A’s.
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