Parent Tips: Helping your teen deal with peer pressure.

It is every parent’s nightmare, how their teen deals with peer pressure. When our children are young we have almost complete control over what occurs in their lives. Most children look upon their parents as Superman and Wonder Woman, filled with awe and love. But as our children grow, they still love us but, they stop looking at us as “icons” and turn towards others. This is what usually sets parents into all kinds of nightmare scenarios.

If you are concerned about peer pressure and how your teen deals with cliques, here are some tips to help.

Reinforce your family values. Belonging is a major issue for pre-teens and teens alike. That need to belong, drives many of their decisions in life. By reminding them that there family is important and by it is their own group, you create strong family foundations. Refer to your family as “the family name” to reinforce your values as a whole. For example – we are the Smythes and “the Smythes” don’t smoke or “the Smythes” don’t use aggression to resolve problems.

If your children hear you saying these statements or similar from early on, they learn that they are indeed part of a bigger group – your family unit. Regularly speak to your children about the world and situations and your thoughts on those topics. By allowing your children to see how you view the world you give them a glimpse into what is important to the family as a whole.

Build their self-esteem. Teens often join cliques or are pressured into situations because they have a bad self image. Another factor is that some teens just want to “fit in” or “be cool.” Work to building teens belief in their strengths. When our children are little we often praise them often for the many things they do – we clap when they take their first steps or say their first word. However, as our children grow our praise tends to diminish.

While you don’t have to clap for every little thing your teen does, teens still need praise and to know they’re doing things right. Let your child know you’re proud of them and that you love them. Acknowledge their accomplishments. Some days the only positive thing you may find is the simple act of putting their dishes away, but by saying a simple “thanks, I appreciate you picking up your dirty clothes” you let them know that you notice even the small positive things they do.

Seek help from a professional if your child suffers from low self-esteem. Low self-esteem may lead to other issues such as depression and can wreak havoc in your teen’s life.

Don’t sweat the little things. While you have every right to be concerned if you feel your child is getting in with the wrong crowd, sometimes as parents we have a tendency to overreact. If your teen dyes their hair purple, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re doing drugs or are ready to drop out of school. Speak to your child; it may be that they are simply experimenting or finding “their look.”

Teens get to a stage where they’re trying to find their own path and their independence in a grown-up world. It’s important to give them a little space to figure this out. It’s also important to trust that as a parent you have already set strong foundations for your child. Now may be time to sit back and show some faith in them.

However, if you do feel at any time that your teen is in trouble or has gotten into the wrong crowd, it is important to act on those feelings. No one knows your child better than you. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts as a parent and take action.

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