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​Today’s Teen Issue12345

The Wrong Crowd

"When you throw a glove in the mud, the mud doesn't get 'glove-y.'"

- Pat Friman, PhD, ABPP
- Boys Town Parenting Expert

What happens when a good kid starts hanging out with a bunch of other kids who aren't so good? Is it likely that ​his goodness will rub off on the group? While this is possible, it's much more likely that the group's not-so-goodness will rub off on the formerly good kid.

To say that the teenage years are incredibly awkward would be a gross understatement. Physical and mental changes cause embarrassment with alarming regularity. Because of this, teens are desperate to fit in with a group. Unfortunately, this means that they are extremely vulnerable to the dangers of being absorbed by a group of kids that engages in antisocial, dangerous or even illegal behavior. And a teen who is good in his or her heart may engage in those activities simply to fit in with this group. This is peer pressure.

The lure is understandable and obvious. We know that teens are driven by emotion rather than logic. We also know that they tend to engage in activities that provide instant gratification. Unfortunately, antisocial, dangerous and illegal activities tend to provide just that, while the opposite is true of walking a straight and narrow path. Put simply, from an adolescent perspective, breaking the rules is fun; following the rules is boring.

This is why parents must be extremely vigilant when it comes to the company their teens keep. It's also a good idea to get to know the parents of your teen's friends. Not only will this give you an insight into your teen's friends' upbringing, it will also afford you a network of eyes and ears keeping you all apprised of the group's activities.

The second part of this equation is to go out of your way to provide abundant praise for your kids whenever they engage in positive behavior. A phrase used often at Boys Town is to "catch your child being good." Beyond praise, you can reward your teen for positive behavior by raising their curfew by half an hour on the weekend or extending gaming or social media time.

Remember, the best way to keep your glove clean is to keep it out of the mud in the first place.

Teaching Activity

Host a Gathering

Ask your teen to invite some of his or her friends over to have a movie night, play video games or some other group activity. If he or she is reluctant to invite them over, there may be a reason for this - specifically that he or she knows they're not the kind of kids you would approve of. If your teen does accept, it gives you the opportunity to meet his or her friends in person and to gauge their personalities up close. Either way, you'll learn more about your teen's friends.

Social Skills

Resisting Peer Pressure

As mentioned earlier, teens often feel a desperate need to fit in. To do so, they will often engage in activities they know are harmful or wrong. This is the essence of peer pressure, and it's something every teen faces at one time or another. Talk to your teen about peer pressure, and give them the following skill steps to resist it:

  • Look - at the person.
  • Use - a calm, assertive voice tone.
  • State - clearly you do not want to engage in the inappropriate activity.
  • Suggest - an alternative activity. Give a reason.
  • Continue - to say "No", even if the person persists.
  • Ask - him or her to leave or remove yourself from the situation, if the peer will not accept your "No" answer.

Coming up in Issue 4

It Takes Two to Tangle


The Silent Treatment


Disagreeing Appropriately

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