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Handling Peer Pressure

Peer-PressureMost parents think of peer pressure solely as something bad. The truth is, peer pressure can steer children to positive behaviors just as easily as it can steer them toward negative ones. Friends can encourage each other to do good things, to try harder in extracurricular activities, to excel at homework and to avoid other kids who don't value these behaviors.

While you can't make negative peer pressure go away entirely, you can teach your children how to resist it and how to surround themselves with friends who help them succeed, rather than fail, in life. Here is some parenting advice to counteract negative peer pressure.

Drown Out Negative Peer Pressure
Negative peer pressure happens when a person or group of people tries to convince another person to do something wrong. On top of peer pressure, television and the Internet expose children to a continuous stream of cultural pressures to look and act a certain way. While you can't silence those outside voices, you can build strong relationships with your children so that your voice drowns out the negative crowd.

Spend time doing fun things together. Do chores like cleaning, running errands and yard work with your children. Use every moment as an opportunity to interact. Go fishing, shopping, out to a movie or for walks together regularly. If your children are younger, read to them or play games.

Use Preventive Teaching and SODAS
While spending quality time with your children, practice preventive teaching. Teach them to say "No" to others who are encouraging bad behaviors, to appropriately disagree, to share their opinions and to help friends in need. Role-play peer pressure situations with your kids and help them come up with good one-liners they can use in various situations.

Practice the SODAS technique to help your children think through the best options when they have to make a decision. When your children show they want to talk to you, give them your full attention. Look them in the eye and ask open-ended questions like "How did that make you feel?" and "What do you think about...?" to show you care and to understand them better.

Monitor your children's activities and interests closely. Regularly check who they're hanging out or communicating with and what they're emailing, texting, chatting about, watching and viewing on their phones, televisions and computers. Monitor their emails and conversations and take any threats or inappropriate behavior very seriously. You may want to install software that enables you to record your children's movements so you can monitor everything they sent, received, typed and viewed after they've been online. Tell your children what you're doing and let them know you're doing it because you love and want to protect them.

Encourage your children to be counter-cultural by resisting the urge to dress a certain way or use a certain product just because "everyone else is doing it." Help them make choices that express their unique personalities and preferences. Use this parenting advice consistently and you'll find that your children will listen to your voice above all others.