6 Ways Parents Can Help Teenagers Deal With Peer Pressure

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In today’s contemporary society, following the latest trends and being compelled to “fit in” is becoming more common daily. In addition, the advent of the internet and a sudden rise in the use of social media have transformed our daily lives and significantly impacted how we think, act, and speak. But doing things just out of peer pressure can quickly become unhealthy and sometimes even dangerous.

Peer pressure is a feeling or compulsion to act a certain way to gain respect or be liked by a particular social group or circle. Although people of all ages can fall victim to peer pressure, teenagers or adolescents are often most vulnerable to its harmful effects. When you’re in your teens, your friends are your family; the desire to conform to their ways is a powerful influencer of your behaviors. As parents, it’s your responsibility to help your teenage children through this challenging phase by providing them with the support and care needed to navigate safely out of it.

Parents must prepare for this period early on. The quicker you get on board to face this challenge, the better you’ll be in the position to help your child. For this reason, here are six ways you can best assist your teenagers in handling peer pressure.

1. Be there for them

Your child’s friends play a critical role in their social and emotional development. Since teenagers undergo so many physical transformations, they look for comfort among individuals going through the same problems. But succumbing to peer pressure can damage their mental health and even lead to drug and alcohol abuse, which may manifest into more complications as they age. Therefore, they must have a reliable support system. Talking to your child or, in cases of substance abuse, seeking assistance offered by professionals like the Delphi Health Group can help them better understand their behavior and the thoughts behind it.

Sometimes, it helps to put yourself in your child’s shoes and think of all the challenges you faced during adolescence. Your teenager will likely respond to you better when they see how willing you are to understand their troubles and root for them throughout.

2. Discuss rules

As teenagers grow up, they become more and more independent. Despite your teaching them what’s right and wrong, they’ll start making decisions for themselves and eventually might even make mistakes. To best deal with this issue, start talking to your teenager early before they fall entirely under bad influence. Communicate your expectations from them and let them know what behaviors you won’t tolerate. Be firm with your rules and set clear boundaries so there’s no room for misinterpretation or grey areas. For example, most teenagers engage in disruptive behaviors after school or late at night. You can set a strict curfew and ensure they follow it to reduce the risk of participating in unhealthy activities.

3. Follow through with consequences

Although rules are essential, you must remember that your child may break these once in a while. Teenagers are more likely to continuously cross boundaries when they know there will be no consequences. Discuss beforehand the penalty they’ll have to face when they break the rules and ensure you stick to them when the time comes. Often, your child may try to shift the blame on a friend, but you must still put some responsibility for their actions on them. Don’t practice severe punishments because these will drive your child further away from you and might even damage their mental health. Instead, you can give them a few extra chores, ground them, or take away their gadgets—so they can rethink their actions.

4. Teach them how to be assertive

The primary reason peer pressure works so well is that the desire to fit in makes it challenging to refuse or say no to something. It’s easier to go along with what everyone else is doing, despite what your conscience has to say about it. One of the best tools you can provide your teenager is to teach them to be assertive and say no to beat pressure. Practicing or role-playing certain situations can go a long way in helping your child refuse when a similar incident arises.

Some tips you can teach them are:

  • Ensure their “no” is firm and a determined one
  • Suggest an alternative activity
  • Remove themselves from the situation
  • Give an excuse
  • Gather other friends who also feel pressured and uneasy

5. Get to know their friends

Teenagers with busy parents, or those who give too much freedom, are the ones who most commonly fall prey to peer pressure. While allowing your child their independence is essential, you must realize they’re still growing up and not entirely adults yet. Therefore, you must make an active effort to get to know the people that are closest to them. Invite their friends over and observe how they interact or influence one another. If their friends’ behavior is in stark contrast with your values and beliefs, you can intervene early on before they start influencing your teenager.

While keeping an eye on your child all the time is impossible, you must ensure they tell you where they’re going and who they’ll be with. Doing so keeps your child conscious of their behaviors, knowing they’ll have to answer to someone if they engage in any damaging activity.

6. Recognize unhealthy patterns

When it comes to teenagers, parents must constantly stay vigilant and recognize unhealthy dynamics in their behaviors as soon as they arise. For example, if your child avoids eye contact, sneaks out, hides things from you, or lies—it’s time for you to intervene. By recognizing these patterns early, you can take the necessary steps and prevent your child from falling into problematic situations. Besides staying aware of their everyday lives, you must also know about their social media engagement and online friends.

Your best chance of getting honesty from your child is by building a healthy and trustworthy relationship with them. Boost their self-confidence, so they don’t feel pressured to fit in the wrong circles and know their worth very well. Most importantly, however, you must accept your teen for who they are. Don’t force your expectations on them; instead, allow them to make their own decisions while supporting them when they fall.

Conclusion

Teenagers are the most vulnerable to peer pressure. This period of growing up is already challenging enough, so as parents, you must be their biggest supporters while ensuring their safety. Follow these steps above to keep your teens from succumbing to peer pressure and guide them towards making the better choice.