Helping Your Children With Peer Pressure Choices Counselor’s Corner by Sharon Scott, LPC LMFT
Helping Your Children With Peer Pressure Choices
By Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT
We’ve talked a lot in this column about how to help your children manage all kinds of negative peer pressure. It’s a very important living skill that must be taught if you want your children to be confident in their decision-making when they are with their peer group.
When kids are not taught this skill, they can be controlled by their peers who may want them to gossip, talk in class, be unkind to others, cheat or fight. If they have not learned how to say “no” in such a way that they feel they can keep friends, then they will be more vulnerable as they get older to more serious peer pressures including alcohol and other drugs, sex, violence, driving recklessly and more. Research shows that 87% of America’s youth face at least one negative peer pressure situation every single day!
A good example of what I’m talking about happened in my private counseling practice just recently. I began working in January of last year with a handsome, smart high school boy who had a drop in his grades and had skipped school twice with friends.
I knew on first glance that he was a pot smoker, something the parents would have never suspected their son of doing. He had always been so good. When I discussed his usage with him, he admitted to smoking a joint up to five times a day for over a year, and the parents were clueless (which is not uncommon).
Through my work with him and his parents, he quit February of last year and he has passed drug tests ever since. He even retook his SAT test months after being drug free and dramatically improved his scores!
All was fine until last week when he broke his curfew. His parents drug tested him and it was positive. He then admitted to having had a headache and taking a hydrocodone pill (prescription medication for pain) from a girl he knows.
I was upset by his usage, but even more upset by his parents’ response. I have worked with his parents diligently on holding him accountable for his actions and they had, which is partly what helped him continue to make good decisions.
However, after this time of him coming home late, being someplace where he was not supposed to be, lying about it all AND using a drug, they did nothing except act mad at him. They said, “He’s done so well for so long that we didn’t want to discourage him.”
He needed a reasonable consequence for each of the four infractions! Their acting mad at him was damaging his self-esteem yet doing nothing to help him be strong with future decisions.
What kids need from parents is to know that they will be held accountable for their actions, not yelled at or ignored. This helps them to be strong to say ‘no’ when they should!
Excerpted in part from Sharon Scott’s classic guide for parents/educators: Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed..
Copyright 2008- 2014, Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from author.
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.
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