If you’ve recently noticed your teen changing his or her behavior, language or dress to match up with their friends, you’re not alone. Few parents are excited by the teen years’ ability to undermine the importance of family and skyrocket the value of friendships. Both are impacted by the psychological urge as well as peer pressure teens get to separate from their family and discover their own identity.
It is normal for your teen’s friends to become intensely influential during this time. One way of relieving this stress for you is to remember that this is a typical developmental stage (with the key word being stage). Another way is to focus your attention on making the most of the time you do spend with them. Make sure it is both educational and meaningful, with open lines of communication. They will be seeking more independence than usual, so long lectures about what to do or say will be resisted and likely just generate a lot of frustration on your end.
Before your teen dives head first into the world of peer pressure, how can you send them out with the right social equipment?
Consider these tips before talking to your teen about peer pressure:
• What are my family’s values? They won’t forget the values you teach them, even if they don’t adhere to them all of the time or as much as you’d like them to.
• What lessons have I taught them that will support good decision-making?
• What top five personal qualities do I want them to have as an adult? Parent with the end in mind.
• Talk in detail about the true dangers of smoking, drinking and drugs. State more facts than opinions. Ask for their personal definitions, and you will find out what they are learning amongst their peers.
• Be empathetic about their desire to fit in with their friends. Reinforce the positive qualities that make someone a good friend.
• Teach assertiveness skills proactively. Ask them if they are comfortable saying “no,” and if not, practice different ways to do this. Don’t forget about the impact of confident body language!
• Talk to them about their world and how they see it. More importantly, listen.
• Is there a visible pattern of disrespect between your teen and their friends? What kinds of interaction are you able to observe, and what does it tell you?
• Watch movies or TV episodes that suggest constructive ways to handle peer pressure and manage the conflict that may follow.
• Be consistent with your expectations, rules and limits. Teens will be less likely to engage in risky behaviors when they are intolerable to you.
Be there for your teen when they need you, and you will remain the biggest influence in their life.
NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Deerfield, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!