Handling Peer Pressure: Saying “No” and Keeping Friends, Part 2
Not only is the child generally caught off guard, he has got to react quickly-in fact within 30 seconds. If the youth takes too long, he is likely to be talked into the trouble.
So it’s imperative that children learn how to identify trouble quickly so that she can already be developing a response.Kids have got to know how to “save face” when saying “no” otherwise they are likely to accept the trouble maker’s idea.It’s a misconception that if she knows right from wrong then she will be able to handle a trouble invitation. The best of kids get into all kinds of minor and serious trouble because of not knowing that to say. Fear of loss of a friend is often greater than fear of any possible consequences.
Research shows that 87% of America’s youth fact at least one negative peer pressure situation every day! It include invitations to skip school, cheat on test, run in the halls, gossip, fight, go someplace off- limits, drink alcohol, be in a clique, copy homework, cuss, use drugs… and so much more.
Peer Pressure Reversal
I have spent the better part of my counseling career travelling to schools across the U.S. and abroad teaching students-and their teachers and parents-my proven effective “Peer Pressure Reversal” strategies. [Editor’s Note: please see sidebar for the many excellent, award-winning books counselor Scott has written for parents/teachers, teen/preteen, and children on this important topic.] The first step of the skill teaches kids to Check Out the Scene which I overviewed last month.
Now the second step is “Decide: Stop or Go.”
It should seem obvious to decide “no” to trouble such as to cheat or fight or drink or gossip. But it’s not that easy due to the fear of being teased or cut out of the group. When I ask kids how long a friend stays mad at them for not going along with the trouble idea, the most common answer they give is a few hours to a day at most. It’s important for young people to realize that they really won’t lose true friends!
Also in this step it’s important for kids to think quickly of possible consequences that might be a result of going along-losing a privilege, getting hurt, losing parent’s trust, not being allowed to see the trouble maker again, etc. His friends are telling him all the good that might happen such as “We won’t get caught,” “It’s no big deal,” and “Everyone’s doing it.” He has got to think of the consequences that he could face. That’s one of the reasons why consistent discipline is important. If he thinks the worst thing that will happen is being yelled it, I guarantee you, he will go along with the pressuring peer.
More next month on step three.
Copyright © 1985-2011, Sharon Scott, Adapted in part from Peer Pressure Reversal, 2nd Ed. No reproduction without written permission from author.
P.S. Please see my other column “Half-Birthdays.”
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.