Helping Kids Cope With Peer Pressure: Peer Proofing Your Child, Part 6
Peer Proofing Your Child/Teen, Part 6
By Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT
In prior columns we’ve covered the ‘Peer Pressure Reversal’ skill and the version for grades K-4, ‘Too Smart for Trouble, so we are now ready to talk about practicing these newly learned skills with your son or daughter. Merely discussing appropriate responses to trouble invitations with your child will not necessarily produce results.
It’s imperative to hold actual role-play conversations with your child as this is what enables them to become quick and comfortable with the skill. The adult plays ‘devil’s advocate’ by taking the role of a friend and using lines the pressuring peer might say to the child. Think of age appropriate scenarios in advance.
Some possible trouble skits to practice with a teen might include invitations to:
- cheat during a test
- loan homework answers
- sneak out
- drink alcohol
- spread gossip.
Skit ideas for a younger child might be:
- riding your bike too far from home
- cutting someone out of the group
- running in the halls at school
- smoking a cigarette.
As you begin the skit practice, don’t tell the child what the trouble is going to be in advance. In real-life, the child will not get thought time. In fact, they have got about 30 seconds to respond or he or she is likely to get talked into the trouble. Do, however, tell them where the location of the skit is (i.e., in the hall at school, in your backyard, in class, etc.) so that the skit will make sense for them.
Remember to act out the scene rather than just discuss it. And avoid using actual friends’ names or specific past situations otherwise an argument will ensue.
Lights, Camera, Action!
A skit ‘demonstration’ might look like this:
Parent: ‘Let’s pretend I’m a friend in math class who sits next to you. We’re supposed to be finishing our work. Let’s act out how you would handle any trouble that you might hear.
‘Hey, pass this note to Billy Bob.’
Your Child: Just keeps on working on his/her project. And says nothing.
Parent: ‘Hey, listen up! Pass this note!’
Your Child: Goes to the pencil sharpener and takes his/her time there. While gone, the friend gives ups and gives the note to someone else to pass.
Give reinforcement to the child for doing a great job. You might say, ‘Wow, I noticed that you ignored the trouble invitation and then left. That was quick thinking! And, if you’re friend says anything to you later in the hall you can just say you can’t risk a zero to pass a note.
If the child stumbled over what to do, give them time to think. If nothing comes to mind, then stop the skit, discuss which of the
Copyright 2018, Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from the author. Excerpted from Sharon Scott’s classic for parents and educators.
Copyright 2018, 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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