If You Were My Friend, You’d _____.
By Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT – Counselor’s Corner
Parents often think that negative peer pressure that their child faces comes from bullies. According to kids, that’s not the case. They say that it’s most difficult to say “no” to trouble from best friends–as well as older youth, popular kids and boy/girlfriends.
That makes it extra difficult to make a good decision as they are being asked to do something by the very people whom they most want to accept them.And generally from 5th grade and up pleasing peers is more important than pleasing parents.
And if you think your child doesn’t face peer pressure regularly, you are probably wrong. Research says that 87% of kids face it daily! One of the most common forms of peer pressure is gossip which can take many forms such as cliques or “friending” or “not friending” someone on Facebook or deciding who can or can’t sit at their lunch table.
Other peer pressure situations include copying homework, fighting, cheating during a test, riding your bike too far from home with friends, lying to parents about where going, vandalism, unkind pranks. And, of course, the most serious ones such as driving too fast, alcohol and other drugs and sexuality decisions.
Some youth can handle run-of-the mill peer pressure, however, when a best friend says, “If you were my friend, you’d do this,” or a boyfriend says, “If you really loved me, you’d ___,” the best of kids can succumb to the pressure. So it’s imperative to teach your child how to “return the challenge” (Editor’s Note: this is one of the ten “Peer Pressure Reversal” choices in Sharon’s popular guide “How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, 2nd Ed.”—see side bar).
Return the child teaches the child how to confidently put the dare back on the other person. Here are two examples:
“If you were my friend, you wouldn’t keep pressuring me to ____.”
“If you really loved me, you would respect my wishes to not ____.”
These kind of replies put your child in charge and give them an out. They have to be taught and rehearsed many times in order to use them when needed—as negative peer pressure requests come quickly and there is little thought time.
Source: “Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed.” and “How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, 2nd Ed,” by Sharon Scott
Copyright © 2013, Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from author.
P.S. Please see my other column SmileNotes.
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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