All teens feel the influence of peer pressure in one way or another. You can run but you can’t hide from peer pressure, especially as a teenager! The teenage years are often riddled with periods of low self-esteem and battles to overcome the relentless challenges of peer pressure.
Most of us have dealt with peer pressure at one time in our lives. We all know how powerful it can be. But for some teens, it’s much worse than it is for others. As a parent, it can help to be armed with some information about possible risk factors that may make your teen more vulnerable to peer pressure.
Some common risk factors that could put your teen at “high risk” when dealing with peer pressure:
- Low confidence level
- Feelings of isolation and not feeling a connection to a social group
- Poor grades
- Few friends
- Low self-esteem
So now what? Let’s say you’ve observed many of these risk factors in your teenager. What can you do to boost self-esteem and help your teenager stand strong against the sometimes overwhelming peer pressure felt in this age group?
- First off, encourage your teen to choose friends wisely. Often, hanging out with the right peer group can help your teen avoid situations where peer pressure will be an issue in the first place.
- Role play with your teen how to handle tense situations wrought with peer pressure. Knowing and practicing how to respond when a peer asks your teen to try drugs, alcohol, or anything else your teen is uncomfortable with can help. You play the role of the peer and let your teen practice how to respond so he will be comfortable if a real life situation arises. Saying “no” is a skill that your teen will benefit greatly from, even beyond the teenage years. While you two are role-playing, give your teen some go-to phrases that he can always fall back on in peer pressure situations. Such as “No way! My mom would kill me if she found out. Her spies are everywhere, just looking to get me in trouble.” This humorous approach can help take the edge off for your teen, even in high pressure situations.
- Do things to boost your teen’s self-esteem. Teens are more able to cope with peer pressure if they have a strong sense of self and are confident in their beliefs and values. Remember, low self-esteem means your teen is more vulnerable to peer pressure. Boosting self-esteem is often one of the best ways to prevent your teen from succumbing to the demands of peer pressure.
- Teach your teen to listen to his gut. Teach your teen that even if his friends seem comfortable with what is going on, if he’s feeling uncomfortable, then it’s time to bail out of a particular situation. (And make sure he knows that if his gut tells him something isn’t okay, it’s highly likely that some of his friends are feeling the same way.)
- Arrange a “bail out” phrase with your teen. This will help your teen “save face” in front of his friends and make it less likely that he’ll cave into peer pressure. Something like, “Mom, I have a terrible earache” can be your code word that your teen wants to get out of a particular situation. A quick phone call can let you know it’s time for you to pick him up.
If you try some of these and notice your teen still seems susceptible to peer pressure, please feel free to Contact Us to learn how Teen Counseling at Tender Hearts Child Therapy Center can help your teen improve self-esteem, learn valuable problem-solving skills, and effective communication skills to stand up to peer pressure.