Everyone faces peer pressure. The desire to belong and make friends leads people to go along with things they wouldn’t do if they were alone. Peer pressure is particularly prevalent—and particularly challenging—for adolescents. Teens want to feel normal and fit in with their friends and classmates, but peer pressure often goes too far and puts teens in dangerous situations. Learning how to handle peer pressure helps teens gain confidence and establish healthy relationships. It also helps prevent drinking and driving and other risky behaviors. Unfortunately, dealing with peer pressure isn’t always as easy as just saying no. How can you help your kids manage the subtle yet pressing influence of friends and classmates? Start with these realistic ways to help teens deal with peer pressure.
Build Their Confidence
Confidence helps teenagers walk away from uncomfortable or dangerous situations. It lets them care less about what others think of them. Most importantly, confidence leads to independence, which is integral to resisting harmful peer pressure. When you are confident in your teen, that confidence will spread to them. Support your child in all that they do. Show and tell them that you believe in them, their efforts, and their dreams. Help your teen pursue the things they love so that they can build passions and skills. These talents will help them grow in both confidence and independence, making it easier to rely on themselves rather than the judgment of their peers.
Encourage Healthy Friendships
It’s hard to tell your kids who they should and shouldn’t hang out with. Even if you can tell who among their friend group is a good influence and who might cause trouble, pointing this out to your teen probably won’t make any difference. Instead of trying to control your child’s friend group, do your best to simply be involved in their life. One of the best ways to help teens deal with peer pressure is to get to know their friends and their friends’ parents. A stronger level of involvement enables you to keep an eye on who your teen spends time with, which then allows you to nudge them gently in the direction of healthy relationships. It will also help you know when your child is getting into an unhealthy friendship or relationship, which allows you to step in and offer advice or an open ear as needed.