You’ve talked to your teens about the birds and the bees. You’ve made them aware of stranger danger. You’ve drilled them to know what’s right from wrong. But have you talked to them about peer pressure? There are many dangers and effects of peer pressure; from stress and self body issues to forming bad habits like smoking and drinking.
Peer Pressure Can Be Deadly
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 20 percent of teens in the U.S have had alcohol before the age of 13 in 2011. Eight percent have tried marijuana before the age of 13. Drugs and alcohol aren’t all that teens are pressured to try. The CDC reported that 10.3 percent of all teens have smoked a cigarette for the first time before the age of 13. Forty-seven percent of all high school students in the U.S reported having sex in 2011, and 6.2 percent of those students reported having sexual relations before the age of 13.
These numbers are shocking, but not uncommon. With daily influences and pressures from peers and social media, teens are always at risk for such behavior. You might be thinking to yourself, “not my teen! I’ve taught them right from wrong, I know they wouldn’t try anything stupid like this.” Well, unless you’ve taught them the dangers of peer pressure and talked honestly and openly to them, you just never know.
Pressure to be Thin
Especially in teen girls, body image and the need to feel skinny and beautiful becomes apart of every day life. In today’s society, it’s not shocking why. Girls see images portrayed in the media of women who are attractive because they are skinny, have a large chest and are caked with makeup. Celebrities use Instagram to post picture after picture of themselves at photo shoots and picture-perfect outfits.
Young girls with self-esteem issues are more likely to succumb to peer pressure than those with confidence. What you can do as a parent is to let them know they are beautiful and amazing in their own way. Remind her every day what her qualities are and how smart she is.
Pressure to be Cool
“Come on man, I’m not going to be your friend unless you throw a rager at your house when your parents are out of town.” Pressures come from everywhere, including movies. “Project X” took it to a whole new level. In the film, a reluctant teen is wary on having a party at his house while his parents were away, but later gives in to peer pressure from his friends at school. This “anything goes” party gets out of hand. By the end of the night his house is totally trashed, and the house erupts in flames. This inspired teens to throw their own “Project X”-inspired party in Houston, leaving one teen dead.
What You Can Do
- Keep the lines of communication open. Whatever your teen might tell you don’t judge them. Listen and offer advice, no judgment. Teenagers are often afraid to come to parents or adults who are judgmental or will subject them to ridicule. Keep your voice in a neutral tone. Be firm but kind in talking with them.
- Talk about teen issues. Reference what’s going on with others your teens age. This could include teen drug use, alcohol, sex and diseases and, of course, the peer pressure your teens will get from their peers.
- Understand that teens do go through a rebellious phase — whether they’re wearing all black or spend a period of time listening to questionable music, know when to pick your battles. If your teen isn’t showing distant or drastic behavior and continues to do well in school then don’t start an argument.
- Encouragement. Tell them what you want them to do rather than what you don’t want. Much more cooperation by saying “I want you home by ten o’clock” rather than “Don’t be late again or you will be sorry.” Encourage your teen to choose good friends and make the right decisions. You’ve taught them right from wrong so trust that they will make the right decision.
- Model Maturity
Your role as a parent is to lead, guide and mentor your child into a self-reliant citizen of the world. If you want them to be respectful, then show them and their friends respect. If you want them to be kind, then be kind to them and allow them to see you being kind to others.
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