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Peer Pressure for Teens and Tweens

For many kids, peer pressure is an ugly fact of life. As the parent of a teen or a tween, you'll want to encourage your child to make the right decisions, and those decisions mean that your child will have to know when to do the right thing even if it goes against what's 'cool.' Teaching teens to be individuals is no small task, but there is help. Take advantage of these parenting tips and peer pressure advice.

Your Tween or Teen IS Listening

As much as you may think that you're wasting your breath trying to teach your child about the dangers of drugs, sex, and alcohol, you're not. In reality, parents have tremendous influence over their children, even teenagers. However, the more you want your tween or teen to listen to you, the more you have to be willing to listen to her.

Tips for Dealing with Peer Pressure That Work!

  • Strengthen your bond. Your teen will be more likely to listen to you and take your advice if you have a strong relationship. Set aside one day of the week for just the two of you to hang out and talk.
  • Avoidance. Talk to your tween/teen about how to avoid situations where peer pressure might be a main factor, i.e. parties and friends’ houses. You can have your teen avoid unhealthy situations altogether by setting a curfew or making rules about going out. Also, get all the details about any plans your tween or teenager makes.
  • Nurture self-esteem. Children who are positive and have a high value of self-worth are less likely to give into peer pressure. Emphasize your child's strengths and encourage her to participate in activities where her skills can shine.
  • Stay involved. Make sure you continuously ask how your child's day at high/middle school was, what she learned, what’s going on with her peers, etc. You don't want to seem like you’re prying or always giving advice, just show your concern and support. Additionally, get to know your teen's friends. If they're into smoking or drinking (as many teenagers can be), chances are your teen/tween will be pressured to do so, too.
  • Avoid overreacting. Your child might tell you something and you literally want to gasp and scream, but don't. If you overreact, you may discourage your child from telling you things in the future.
  • Think for yourself. Encourage your tween/teen to think for herself and develop good decision making skills, so she can stand up to peer pressure. Persuade your child to step back from an issue or even go somewhere and think about the details and probable outcomes. This will help your teen or tween think through situations carefully instead of just following her friends.
  • Don't sweat the small stuff. Yes, your child will try various different ways to fit in with her peers. Choose your battles wisely, and save the big battles for things that matter most to you. This advice can really help. By not sweating the small stuff, you will end up being more effective when you challenge your child on the bigger issues.