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Put Peer Pressure in Its Place

During the teen years, peer pressure can be very strong. It can push kids to do things that they don't really want to do. This pressure can come from friends or other kids at school. But parents can counter it, if they're ready to help.

It's normal for children to get some guidance from outside sources, including their peers. But uninformed or bad advice may send children down the wrong path.

Pushed toward behavior

Teens can feel pressure to drive recklessly, have sex, smoke, or use drugs and alcohol. Smoking, drinking, and use of marijuana among teens and preteens are not uncommon. The best shield against peer pressure is to help your child stay away from the bad influences until he or she is old enough to understand the risks. It’s also important for your child to have the confidence to make decisions on his or her own.

The most precious thing is self-respect. This is instilled from a very young age. Children without an identity, or those who live in troubled households, are very likely to feel confused or disappointed in their parents. They often have a need to rebel.

You can nurture self-respect if you help your children view themselves in a positive light and praise them for good decision-making.

A parent can't control a child. The child has to be self-controlled. What you can do is act as a resource for your child's judgment and step in when there's danger. Modeling self-respect and proper behavior in front of your child is the best way to teach that behavior. 

Get your children ready

Here are several ways to help your kids get ready to hang out with friends when no adults are around:

  • Get to know your children's friends and their parents. Children whose friends do not smoke, drink, steal, or lie are far less likely to do these things.

  • Role-play situations in which your child says no to an offer of drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes. It's important to rehearse these things so that your child feels comfortable with what he or she can say. A shy child or teen might prefer to say "No thanks" or "I have to go." A more confident or outgoing child or teen might prefer "Forget it!" or "No way!"

  • Also talk with your child about how to avoid situations you don't want him or her to be in. And how to avoid people who break the rules. If your child is not in a situation in which he or she feels pressure to follow unacceptable behavior, he or she is much less likely to behave that way.

  • Nurture self-esteem in your children. A child or teen with strong self-esteem can make decisions and follow through on them, despite what his or her friends say. To nurture self-esteem, be generous with praise, so that your children see themselves in a positive way. Help them avoid children who ridicule or try to shame them.

  • Discuss sex and sexual health before your child becomes sexually active. Listen to your child, but make your values and opinions clear.

Online Medical Reviewer: Ballas, Paul, DO
Online Medical Reviewer: Bass, Pat F. III, MD, MPH
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2016
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