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Peer Pressure ~ 3 Parenting Tips to Teach Your Kids

By Jean Tracy, MSS

Peer Pressure Statistics:

Time/Nickelodeon surveyed of 991 kids ages nine to fourteen about peer pressure. 36 percent felt pressure to smoke marijuana, 40 percent felt pressure to have sex, 36 percent felt pressure to shoplift, and four out of ten felt pressure to drink. - from Michele Borba, Ed.D.

Yikes! What can you do to help your child buck peer pressure and act with character? Prepare your child by teaching assertiveness, choosing good friends, and listening to his inner voice.

First Character Building Tip – Teach Assertiveness

Imagine you and your child are discussing refusal skills. Pretend your child is being pressured to smoke. Ask your child to give 3 reasons why smoking is a bad idea. Write them down. Then act as if you are his peer and pressure him to smoke. Tell your child to give you the 3 reasons why he won't smoke. Make sure he uses a firm voice, looks you in the eye, and uses few words with no excuses. Use this with each of the Time/Nickelodeon survey topics above.

Second Character Building Tip– Choose Great Friends

Ask your child to name some kids who wouldn't pressure her to do the wrong thing. How are they different from the kids who would? Ask your child if kids who choose to do the right things like tell the truth, do their schoolwork, play fair, and don't smoke make good friends. Then ask your child "Would choosing these kids to be your friends make life easier for you to make good decisions? Why or why not?"

Third Character Building Tip– Listen to Their Inner Voice

Discuss how we all have an inner voice. Some experience it as a nudge that something is not right. In the heat of the peer pressure moment it's easy reject that voice or feeling. Suggest using the motto, "When in doubt, think it out." This helps your child slow down long enough to decide what to do.

Act out peer pressure situations like shoplifting, lying, and hurting others. Tell him to repeat that motto quietly inside his head during the role-play. Then ask him how he felt using it. Finally, ask him to let you know when he practices it in real life. One more thing, post "When in doubt, think it out," on the refrigerator as a reminder.

Peer Pressure Summary:

Bucking negative peer pressure is easier for children when you teach assertiveness, promote their choice of great friends, and show how to pay attention to their inner voice. With these 3 parenting tips they are less likely to get into trouble and more likely to become people of character.

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Pick up Character Building: Problem Stories for Family Discussions 3 great discussion BONUSES are included:


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Jean Tracy, MSS publishes a Free Parenting Newsletter. Subscribe at http://www.KidsDiscuss.com and receive 80 fun activities to share with your kids.