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Avoiding Peer Pressure

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: When confronted with a controlling peer how do you get a 15-1/2-year old to recognize the manipulation in order to stay clear of at risk situations,especially when they seem fun and exciting?

A: It's very easy to be seduced at this age by strong-willed, exciting peers. You can live vicariously through their bold swagger and become someone you're not (but would like to be) by associating with them. Pointing out to our 15-year-olds that they are being manipulated by kids we don't trust usually results in their assuming we think they are stupid, weak, and can't think for themselves.

I think you can mirror him and empathize with him regarding this relationship ( I know you find this boy to be an exciting, fun guy to be around and I can understand why he seems so appealing). You can then ask him to listen to your concerns (notice I didn't say condemnations) regarding his hanging out with this kid. Tell him you hope your concerns are unwarranted and tell him you think he's smart enough to know if he's being controlled by this or any other person. Watch for any behavioral changes in your son that worry you and keep connected to him.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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