Parent Resources

Teaching Your Child to Think 'On Their Feet'

Resisting negative peer pressure takes practice.

Prepare your child for tough situations.

“Peer pressure feels like having a spotlight shining on you in a big crowd. You need to make a decision quickly and you don’t know what to do,” according to a 17 year-old from Michigan.

To help your child prepare for these situations, practice this type of exercise together. (You can make up many more situations from television/movies, or from situations you hear about at work, etc.)

The setup. Review the situation.
The deal. Discuss the pros and cons of going along.
Conclusion. Decide on the appropriate action; don’t look back.
What you could say. Talk about graceful ways to address the situation. Remind your child that if his/her friends do get angry, their anger will probably pass quickly. If it doesn’t, then they were not good friends.

Problem 1: The Ride
The setup. Your friends want a ride to the mall, but you only have a learner’s permit. Should you drive them by yourself (no adult)?

The deal. If you do this, you might look cool; but it’s illegal and dangerous. If you get caught, you could lose your permit and your future license. If you have an accident, your friends could get hurt and your parents could get sued.

Conclusion. It’s not worth the risk.

What you could say. “For now, I can only drive if a parent is in the car. My mom can give us a ride.” OR “It’s gonna be great when I get my license. Then I can take you places. If I lose my permit, I won’t get my license for a long time.”

Problem 2: Smoking Friend
The setup.
One of your best friends has started smoking, and some of your other friends want you to pressure him to quit.

The deal. If you talk to your friend, he may see you care and consider quitting. Or, he might get angry at you for bugging him. If you don’t say anything, his health is at risk, and your other friends may lose respect for you.

Conclusion. It’s worth the risk to lean on your friend to quit smoking.

What you could say. “Why are you smoking anyway? Don’t you know it’s bad for you? You’re wasting your money”. Or the teasing-but-true approach: “That stuff reeks. Nobody will kiss you if you smoke.”

Other Situations – Work through these with your teen to develop positive solutions.

1. A friend asks you to carry her cigarettes in your backpack because your friend’s parents suspect she’s smoking and might go through her stuff.

2. You are with friends and one of them suggests trying to sneak into an R-rated movie.

3. You are babysitting and your boyfriend wants to come over after the kids have gone to bed.

[NOTE: “going steady” or dating before age 16 is highly discouraged because younger teens rarely have the maturity level or the moral strength to stand up for their standards. Statistics show that younger teens who date become sexually active earlier, have more lifetime sexual partners, and acquire more STDs]

4. You are at a store with a friend and he dares you to steal a candy bar (shoplift).

5. At a recent party, you tried a cigarette and drank some beer. You don’t want to smoke or drink again, but at the next party, your friends remember your previous actions and assume you will do the same things again.

6. A girl you like asks if she can copy your test during class.

7. A friend asks you to download a pirated copy of a recently released movie with the file-sharing program on your computer.

8. One of your best friends is spending the night at your house. He wants you to go to a pornography website he has heard about.

9. You are with friends at a restaurant and they begin making fun of the waitress. Everyone is joining in, but you feel sorry for her.

10. Your sister is planning to have a party when your parents are out of town this weekend. She says you’re invited – and that you can’t tell your parents.

[excerpted from “Peer Pressure & Smoking: Raising Kids Who Don’t Smoke”]