Kids drinking, smoking
or taking other risks?
The truth is that peer pressure can be both positive and negative. Kids encourage peers to do good things (such as volunteer) and bad things (such as drugs).
The bottom line is that all peer pressure requires kids to make a decision: “Should I do what others want me to do?” Here are ways to prepare your child:
• Stick to your beliefs. Children look for moral guidance from their parents—even when it seems most unlikely. A child may curse just to test his parents’ values. By disapproving of this, parents reinforce the message, “This is not okay.”
• Discuss peer pressure. Often, kids let peers influence them because they want to be liked. But there are more important things than short-term popularity. Ask your child, “How would you feel if you gave in to negative peer pressure? Do real friends push you to do bad things?”
• Practice reacting. Role play peer-pressure situations with your child. For example, a classmate wants her to smoke, or a friend encourages her to join the soccer team. Talk about ways to handle negative peer pressure, such as standing up for yourself, ignoring a peer or using humor to defuse a situation.
• Praise good decisions. Notice times when your child does the right thing. If she defends an unpopular child or pledges not to drink alcohol, support her. Say, “I admire what you did. That took courage.”
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