Helping Youth Resist Peer Pressure
Many adults think peer pressure is always negative, but peers often are positive role models, influencing your child to act in certain ways or take on certain behaviors. Peers also listen to and understand the frustrations and challenges your child is experiencing, and they offer a sense of acceptance and belonging young people need.
Youth whose friends smoke, drink alcohol, take drugs or engage in other negative behaviors are more likely to engage in those behaviors themselves. But the opposite is also true: adolescents whose friends have high educational aspirations do well in school and engage in other healthy behaviors tend to behave that way, too.
Here are some suggestions for helping your child resist negative peer pressure:
- Help your child see the difference between image (who people think she is) and identity (who she really is).
- Keep the lines of communication open and find out why certain friends are important to your child or teen.
- If you are concerned about your child’s friends, discuss behavior and choices rather than the friends themselves.
- Encourage your teen's independence by supporting decision-making based on principles rather than what others are doing.
- Let your child or teen know if you’re concerned about choices she’s making.
- Do not attack your child's friends; criticizing your child’s choice of friends feels like a personal attack.
- Encourage your child to think about her actions in advance and the immediate and long-term consequences of risky behaviors.
- Give your child or teen love, time, boundaries and encouragement to think for herself.
- Talk to your child about balancing the sense of belonging to a group with the independence of making her own decisions.
- Make sure your teen knows that she is loved and valued as an individual at home.