When Your Adolescent is Under Negative Peer Pressure

Posted: January 31, 2016

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It is not unusual to have a situation in which your child is under positive or negative peer pressure. Teens, especially, need you to be an aware parent in such a case.

Teens are often characterized as being rebellious, selfish, and autonomous. Adolescence is an age where peers are the top priority. Everything else takes a back seat in comparison with his/her friends. It is at this time the character, personality of an individual is built.

“I chose this because I want to feel accepted and valued by my friends, though I didn’t really want to do it.” This is the most common statement of adolescents when they are caught crossing the boundaries of experimentation. It can be substance abuse – alcohol, cigarette, drugs, or even sexual behaviour.

Here are a few parenting tips to handle the adolescents who are under negative peer pressure.

Spending time with them

This is key to parenting. Spending time does not mean you are giving your ‘parental gyan’ to your child. Spend time to understand the mind of your teen. Be interested in the little things that make up their day. Build trust with them. This quality time is to tell them that ‘you are always there’ for them, no matter what. You should be. Your children are all that you have.

Do not badmouth the other parent

Even if you have relationship problems, do not run down your spouse/partner in front of your child. This could lead to self-esteem issues in the child, which could lead them into trouble. Child should see the parents in its own eyes, not through the eyes of the parents. Let them understand your attitude and personality.

Use your parental instinct

Many parents believe that the parental instinct is enough for finding out anything that might be wrong with the child. Not always. Vigilance is needed, to sense danger much before the damage happens. Also, remember not to breach the privacy or the confidentiality of your child.

For eg., if your child is in a relationship, there are some more sensitive ways to find out than checking the messages in his/her mobile. Trust is broken when the child learns that you have invaded his/hers secret life. Everyone has a secret life make sure you protect that trust.

Life skills should begin at home

Do not relax thinking your child is getting all the coaching for the real life at school. It is equally important as a parent for you to decide on different themes that you want to tell or explain to your child. Give real life examples and inspiring stories to motivate the child. Focus on the survival skills and soft skills.

For eg., if your child is into wasting resources and money, because his/her friends do so, it may not be able to guide through ‘giving gyan’. Be a role model for your child. Practice what you teach. Our children may read many books, hear many teachers but what matters is how you project yourself in front of your child. Your honesty, integrity is very important for your child’s upbringing.

Develop selective hearing

You will have people that speak about the behaviour of your child. It is important for you to implement selective hearing. As a parent you should decide what to listen to and why. Do not give the impression to your child that you trust others more than himself. Accepting a fact without evidence is not a great quality of a parent. Observe, Analyze, Accept the details of your kid given by others.

For eg., “the other day I saw your daughter with a few of her friends. There were boys also in that gang. Check with her what she was doing outside during college hours,” a relative/friend says. It is up to you how to take this statement forward. Rather than immediately interrogating your child, can you speak in any other manner to know what your child was up to?

Be aware of your child’s friends and activities

Get to know your child’s friends’ families. There can be a friend with an abusive father, abusive mother, parents in extra marital affairs, alcoholic parent /parents, single father, single mother. Get to know the outline of the family and make sure it is not affecting the psychology of your child. Do keep a check on the places where any parties are held and the invitees.

Knowing the behaviour of your child at school can help you to understand if your child is a victim of the instances mentioned above. Do have constant meeting with the teachers and psychologists at school. Give importance to every minute details.

Sex and sexuality

Understand these two are different concepts. If you have an adolescent at home, it is high time you sit with your child to talk about these topics. Do not think that ‘children-will-understand-it-anyway’. We never know the way our children learn about sex. It might be through biology studied at school, through their life skills classes, or through high risk behaviour. You want to avoid the last.

For eg., most cyber cafes could be hubs for the teenagers to watch porn. Watching porn could be a group activity. This outlet where our children get to know about sex is very unsafe. The young mind might get damaged. It might change their opinion about women.

Have a candid talk with your child about sex, sexuality, safe sex, sexually transmitted diseases.

Watch them online

As a parent we have to be very careful about the online and social media activities of our children. With the increase in the cyber crime and the misuse of internet, we have to make sure that our children are not the victims of these crimes.

Be vigilant if children are uploading their pictures online to an unknown website. You can easily install/buy a parent check software for the computer that your child has the access. Also it is ‘cool’ to become their friend on social networking sites. This way you could unobtrusively monitor the internet activity of your child as well his/her friends.

Observe the pattern of the posts or pictures or role models that are posted in their timeline. Post some articles, pictures that will bring up the morale of your child. This also means the friend circle of your child is very aware that you are an umbrella for their friend.

Weight issues

Being bullied and teased is unfortunately common among teenagers due to their weight. It is due to the age, hormonal factors that cannot be changed drastically. Obese or skinny teenagers will go through a lot of pain at school. Stand by him/her. Give the real details and not by saying, “You-are-the-best-looking-person-on-this-earth.” Our children are smart enough to understand that we are just trying to convince them. Biological features cannot be changed for others. Convince the child through educating not by pitying.

Anti-hero role models?

Don’t you think our children like grey shades in characters, the anti-heros rather than the hero roles that we used to like in our teens? There are item numbers, violence, sexual abuse, bed rooms scenes, high amount of sexuality exhibited in our movies. It might be impossible to stop kids from watching these movies. They will watch it anyway.

Talk about your favorite movies that has shaped your life. If possible watch that movie together. Also, watch the movie that your child likes with him/her. Give comments and share feedback about the movies. This way you both will come to one level of understanding about your tastes.

Books!

Reading always makes a better human. Have a small library in your house. Make reading as a family habit. Along with the expensive gifts for your child on his/her birthday always give a wonderful book for your child. It is super good to be in your balcony, sipping a cup of coffee, and reading a book with your teen. Discuss, share comments, feedback about the books that you both are reading.

Reading calms down the mind and the creativity of your teen enhances with reading.

In this era where everything can be bought and learnt, it is to be noted that no one can take the place of a parent. Be with your children when they need you most. Teenage.

Happy Parenting!

Image source: teenager with mother on a laptop by Shutterstock.

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