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Behavior Makeover: Negative Peer Pressure

Think about when you grew up. What kinds of peer pressure did you face when you were a child? When you were a teen? How did your parents deal with it? How did you deal with it? Was that a successful response? Would you have responded any differently now? Did you ever pressure friends to do something they didn't want to do? What was their response?

Now reflect on kids growing up today. How is it different from when you grew up? Do you think pressure today is more difficult, the same, or less tough? Why? What kinds of pressure do you think your kid faces from friends? Which kinds worry you the most? And remember that peer pressure can be positive – for instance, healthy competition, inspiring role models, stimulating new ideas.

Talk to other parents, and find out the kinds of pressures they are concerned about. Do you share any of the same concerns? Are they doing anything to help their kids resist peer pressure?

Now it's time to take action to begin making over your kid's behavior. Use your Makeover Journal to write down your thoughts and develop your plan.

  1. The best way kids learn to resist negative peer pressure is by watching how we stick up for ourselves. Reflect on the kind of assertive example you are setting for your child. For example, what do you do when your business colleague asks you at a family dinner to tell your boss tomorrow that she is ill so she can take the day to shop? Or what do you do if a neighbor comes around with a half-filled petition to prevent a black couple from buying the house next door? How can you tune up your daily behavior so your kid sees how to be assertive and respectful at the same time? Write it.

  2. Talk with your child about peer pressure. You might begin, "Have you ever been urged by a friend to do something you didn't want to do? How did you handle it? Did it work?" Explain that there will be lots of times when friends ask her to do things that she doesn't want to do. Emphasize that though it's sometimes hard, she shouldn't be afraid to stand up for what she believes. Do make sure to talk often with your child about values so she has a firmly planted inner conscience and knows what she and her family stand for.

  3. Identify an issue your kid may have to deal with now or in the near future. Here are a few: cheating on a test, shoplifting, giving homework answers, using drugs, looking at pornographic materials, drinking, sneaking out at night, smoking, or taking unsafe risks.

  4. Review the six assertive strategies with your child. Plan to teach them over the next few days.

  5. Practice each strategy together using peer pressure issues that your kid might have to deal with. Here are a few examples to role-play:

    A friend wants you to go to the store and shoplift with her. If you don't do it, she says you won't be her friend.
    You're taking a test, and a classmate wants you to give her the answers.
    You're at a slumber party. The group wants to sneak out to drink at the park.

    Role-play the parts, switching between who's the friend and who's receiving the pressure so your child can watch how you use the strategy and assert yourself.


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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