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Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT – When you think of negative peer pressure, you probably imagine a scene in the hall at school where one youth asks another to copy.

Many times kids give in and loan the homework for fear of losing friends and not being liked.  Many youth, in fact, think it’s no big deal to cheat. It’s important to realize that if a kid can’t say no to this, he or she will highly likely have difficulty saying no to other peer pressures that could have even more serious consequences. It’s critically important for parents to teach children how to think on their own.

A lovely teen client in my counseling practice was relating to me about how her boyfriend likes to study with her. Her parents really approve of this boy since he’s well mannered, a good student and comes from a good family. What the parents don’t know, however, is that he goofs off during the studies and this very smart girl has to encourage him to stay to task. He doesn’t though and tells her quit bossing me or I’ll do it later. She tells me he’s like a little kid in this area. It affects her ability to learn.

The more serious problem kicks in during test time when he again refuses to apply himself to reviewing for the test while studying together. The day of the test, however, he runs to her at school in a panic insisting that she help him cram for the test. If she tells him she has something else to prepare for, he gets mad at her and tells her she’s being selfish. This causes her to doubt herself and she feels guilty.

She has tried to talk to him about this, but he either acts angry and refuses to talk about it or tells her she’s a nag. This is setting up a pattern of accepting emotional abuse and allowing someone else to control her actions. She needs to learn to ask for what she wants which probably means she needs to study alone and let him do the same.

How can a parent help in such situation?

1. Don’t allow your child to always have a study partner,they need to be responsible to do their work on their own.

2. When kids are studying together, it would be a good idea to listen in to see how they are doing. Are they goofing off? Is only one doing the work for them both? If so, then this is an unhealthy study environment.

3. Consider study time to be in a more public area rather than behind closed doors.

4. Nonchalantly ask your child how the studying went,was the other person helpful when needed and quietly working the rest of the time?

The girl in my example is actually close to her parents, yet she has never shared this concern with them. So it would be a good idea to gently monitor shared study time and/or ask that it be done in a location where you can occasionally observe.

Copyright © 2014, Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from author.

P.S. Please see my other column SmileNotes.

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Sharon Scott

Sharon Scott

Sharon is the author of eight award-winning books including four on the topic of peer to peer pressure.

The guide for parents/educators on how to peer-proof children and teens is Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed.

Her popular book for teens, How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, 2nd Ed., empowers kids to stand out,not just fit in!

A follow-up book for teens, When to Say Yes! And Make More Friends, shows adolescents how to select and meet quality friends and, in general, feel good for doing and being good.

Sharon also has a charming series of five books for elementary-age children each teaching an important living skill and "co-authored" with her savvy cocker spaniel Nicholas who makes the learning fun.Their book on managing elementary-age peer pressure is titled Too Smart for Trouble.
Sharon Scott

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