It is not as hard as one may think to refuse to buckle in to peer pressure. Most teens could care less whether you give in or not, it is how you say no that counts. A few important things to remember when saying "no":
- Politely refuse, don't freak out, don't yell, don't call them names. A simple, "Nah, that's not really my thing!" will usually be good enough.
- Resist the urge to preach. Don't over explain your position. If your peers are doing something like drugs or alcohol, refuse on behalf of yourself and leave it at that and if it is really bothering you talk to your parents about it later.
- Don't put yourself at risk by refusing. If the situation is way out of control, quietly and discreetly walk away and try to get help. For instance, if some friends start fighting with another group of teens; leave, get help and if necessary notify authorities. You can do this quietly and discreetly without being found out later saying something like, "Hey man, that was so out of hand I had to get out of there!"
- Don't make a scene. The bigger deal YOU make of your saying no, the bigger it will seem to THEM. Whenever possible shrug it off with a "no thanks" and immediately turn your attentions elsewhere.
- Remember, in the end, it really only matters what YOU think of YOU. You are the only person who has to live with your choices and the consequences of your actions.
- How do you prepare yourself to face peer pressure and win? The answer is simple.
- Prepare yourself ahead of time for uncomfortable situations, mentally script out the reaction you WANT to have in a given situation (the reaction that goes AGAINST peer pressure) and play that script out in your head over and over again.
- Know where you stand on key issues like sex, drugs and alcohol and do not allow anybody to make you deviate from your position.
- Do not allow yourself to seek comfort in making other people feel bad or sad, flatly refuse to take part in anything designed to cause harm or distress to another person and speak up when/if such a situation arises. You do not have to be angry or confrontational, a comment like "lets not bother with this" or "why do we need to do this" is usually enough to inspire others who are uncomfortable to stand up and be counted.
- Think of yourself as a leader and act accordingly. The more you see yourself in a leadership role the more comfortable you will feel asserting your own opinions and feelings.
(Herbert G. Lingren, Extension Family Scientist, Adolescence and Peer Pressure, Family Life, December 1995)What parents can do
Some parents limit the time of day that their teenagers can have long phone calls. Others arrange call waiting on their phone, so that if a call for them comes in, it can be taken. Keep in mind the needs of your teenager and work out what is the best solution for your family.
- If you have allowed your teenager to have a mobile phone you must realize that it is very difficult to control the amount of time spent on the phone with friends. You could have an agreement that mobile phones are turned off at home between certain hours or handed over at home.
- There are advantages when your teenagers friends hang around at your house, so you may need to set some house rules. Making a joke about it can take the sting out of your rules e.g. having smoking and non-smoking zones.
- Sometimes you can rearrange the use of your rooms so that there is a space for teenagers, and a space for parents and any younger children in the family. This gives the teenagers some privacy that they will be grateful for and protects your sanity.
- Keep plenty of low cost food, such as bread, cereal, cheese and fruit (in season if available). If necessary label what is to be kept for family meals and what is available for snacks.
- Be clear about the family rules for using the computer.
- If there is pressure on your teenagers to raid your alcohol when friends visit, make the rules clear. If necessary lock it away.
- Talk with your teenagers and your partner/spouse about your views on sexual activities and what you are willing to allow in your home. You will need to account for the age of your teenagers, the nature of the relationship, where else they would very likely go if they were not at home, and of course your own values.
- Check whether your concerns about their friends are real. While you might feel very uneasy about them, sometimes it is better not to spend energy worrying about some things like hairstyle, clothing, where they wear their earrings and what music they enjoy.
- If you believe that your concerns are serious, talk to your teenager about the behavior not the friends.
(Peer Pressure, Child and Youth Health, www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetails.aspx?p=114&np=122&id=1688 (AD: 10/9/05))