School Starts and the Pressure Begins – Peer Pressure That Is!
School Starts and the Pressure Begins’Peer Pressure That Is!
By Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT
It’s almost back-to-school time! This month you will spend time buying your children new school clothes, getting required supplies and perhaps attending an orientation at the school. I hope that another thing you add to your busy list is to review my proven effective Peer Pressure Reversal skills that I’ve written many of these columns about. I’ve written three books on this subject (a parent guide, one for teens/preteens and another for children) and traveled across the U.S. and abroad lecturing on this needed life skill.
Just knowing right from wrong is not sufficient in this overly fast-paced world in which your children live to enable them to avoid trouble invitations by their peers. And research tells us that 87% of America’s youth face at least one negative peer pressure situation every day! It could range from talking in class, vandalism, gossiping, copying homework, cutting someone out of the group or fighting all the way up to life threatening pressures to drive too fast, use drugs, drink and drive or have sex.
Peer pressure does intensify in the teen years’ but it begins when children are about three or four years old! Little kid peer pressure might sound like this: ‘If you don’t play this game, then you can just go home!’ As you see, one child is trying to control the other. And that’s what negative peer pressure is: emotional blackmail! So it’s never too young to begin teaching children Peer Pressure Reversal’which I call Too Smart for Trouble at the elementary-age level. It’s also never too old to teach this to your teen either’even when they roll their eyes at you and act like they know it all.
A quick review:
1. We must teach children to recognize the subtleties of their friends’ behavior that could indicate they are suggesting trouble such as acting sneaky, whispering, being macho and daring or wanting to go someplace off-limits. Your child needs to recognize that a trouble trap is imminent as this gives them time to think.
2. Next, your child needs to be taught how to think on their own! They need to be encouraged to listen to and trust their own voice inside which will help them to quickly weigh both sides of the situation.
3. And, most importantly, you need to teach and rehearse various ways for them to manage trouble invitations. The quiet child might be comfortable learning how to ignore or leave the scene. The class clown likes to be taught how to say ‘no’ in humorous ways. Verbal children can be comfortable changing the subject or coming up with a better idea. A child with a flair for drama will like my act shocked technique. And if ‘double dog dared,’ your child will need the return the challenge technique.
What’s most important is that you, as the parent, discuss this with your child. Let them know of your high expectations for them to make wise decisions. Help them to learn a repertoire of responses because they will need to act within 30 seconds or less to respond to the trouble otherwise they are likely to get talked into it.
Excerpted in part from Sharon’s classic guide for parents Peer Pressure Reversal
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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