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Behavior Makeover: Negative Peer Pressure

My eleven-year-old daughter was caught stealing candy out of a teacher's cabinet with two other girls. My concern is that she is so easily led by others and goes along with whatever they do. When she's older, the temptations will no longer be candy, but sex, alcohol, and drugs. How can I help her stand up for what she knows is right and not buckle in to peer pressure?

– Ruth a mother of three daughters from Savannah, Georgia

Shoplifting.
Cheating.
Drugs and alcohol.
Sexual promiscuity.
Violence.

Peer pressures facing today's kids are enormous. Of course, we always hope that our kids will be able to say no to such negative influences, but it's often difficult because such choices are not always popular with their peers. The truth is that it takes real moral strength not to be influenced by others. We must help our kids develop the inner strength of character needed to buffer negative pressures and then teach them specific assertiveness skills. Only then will they be able to stand up to their peers.

Six Strategies To Resist Negative Peer Pressure
Here are six strategies you can teach your kid to stand up to peer pressure. I use the acronym ASSERT to help kids recall six ways they can stick up for their beliefs:

  1. AAssert yourself with physical confidence. Teach your kid to stand up for his beliefs and not back down by using confident posture: stand tall with feet slightly apart, head high, and look the person straight in the eye. Emphasize that the posture he uses to deliver his lines is usually more important than the words he says.

  2. S Say no firmly. Once your kid decides not to do what is being asked, stress that he must say no to the person using a friendly but firm and determined voice and then not give in. Remind your child that his job is not to try changing the other person's mind, but to keep himself out of trouble and follow his beliefs.

  3. S Say goodbye and leave. Emphasize that standing up to a friend isn't easy. Stress that he may face intimidation, teasing, or rejection for his choice, but that's what courage is all about. Sometimes the best option is to walk away from the situation. Set up a policy with your kid that whenever he feels unsafe in a situation, he should phone, and you agree pick them up with no questions asked.

  4. E Give a reasonable excuse. Your child could give the peer an excuse: "I told Dad I'd be home," "I have homework," or "I promised my friend I'd come by." Tell your kids it's okay to use you as an excuse: "My mom will ground me for life if I did that!"

  5. RRepeat your decision. Tell your child it's sometimes helpful to repeat his decision several times like a broken record: "No, it's not right," "No, it's not right." It makes him sound assertive and helps him not back down from his stand.

  6. TTell reasons. Thinking about the possible consequences of the choice helps strengthen kids' convictions not to proceed with what they're asked to do. So tell your kid to give the person the reason he's saying no: "It's illegal," "I'll be grounded," or "I could get hurt."


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From No More Misbehavin' by Michele Borba, Ed.D. Copyright © 2003 by Michele Borba. All rights reserved. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Buy the book at www.amazon.com.


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