Tag Archive | Back to School

Back to School: Dealing with Peer Pressure

PeerpressureNo matter what grade your child is entering, from elementary school to college campuses – some kids will be facing the judgment of their peers.

“Peer pressure is not always bad. It can be very good. It can be encouraging. Sometimes a person may not want to choose hi-risk behaviors and may not want to do the wrong thing because they know their friends aren’t into that.”

– Dr. Marilyn Billingsly, pediatrician

It’s conventional wisdom that peer pressure is a powerful force in the lives of kids, especially teenagers. A new University study reminds us that while peer pressure can push kids into risky behavior, it can also help kids do the right thing.

Alex Shillinger is in court facing drug charges. He says he was “worn down” by peer pressure to try marijuana.

“There were constantly people telling me, ‘Come on, just try it, just one time, it’ll be fine,’” says Alex, 18.

On the other hand, because of peer pressure, Ambra says she’s never done drugs or alcohol or had sex.

“Being around people like that, just like myself, it keeps me motivated,” says Ambra, 17.

Peers can be powerful influences, for both goodandbad behavior. A new study from the University of Southern California found that kids were less likely to use drugs if they were in a substance abuse program taught by other kids.

“Peer pressure is not always bad. It can be very good. It can be encouraging. Sometimes a person may not want to choose hi-risk behaviors and may not want to do the wrong thing because they know their friends aren’t into that,” says Dr. Marilyn Billingsly, pediatrician.

Of course, it depends on the friends — and parents have little control over that.

“I think it makes it even more important for parents to know their kids’ friends and the parents of their kids friends and monitor what’s going on with the group of friends,” Dr. Carol Drummond, Ph.D., psychologist.

If you suspect that one of your child’s friends isusing drugs, experts say to make your views on drugs loud and clear and tell your child you’re worried.

“Sometimes your kid will come back and say, ‘Listen, Mom, I know he’s drinking, doing drugs; I am not doing that.’ But at least you’ve gotten a chance to plant that message that you’ve got worries. You’ve got to watch your own child.  And if you feel like you have some concern that your child is making bad decisions, then you need to act aggressively,” says Dr. Judy Wolman, Ph.D., psychologist.

Tips for Parents

  • Peer pressure is not always a bad thing. For example, positive peer pressure can be used to pressure bullies into acting better toward other kids. If enough kids get together, peers can pressure each other into doing what’s right. (Nemours Foundation)
  • Some good behaviors that friends can pressure each other to do include: be honest, be nice, exercise, avoid alcohol, respect others, avoid drugs, work hard, don’t smoke. (National Institutes of Health, NIH)
  • You and your friends can pressure each other into some things that will improve your health and social life and make you feel good about your decisions. (NIH)

References

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)
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Do Anti-Bullying Programs Work?

As school will be opening, unfortunately we may start hearing about the ugliness of bullying and teasing of kids.  Many, if not most, schools have employed an anti-bullying policies and programs.  But what happens if they don’t work?

A special guest post from Blair Wagner of A Way Through helps sort through this dilemma.

 

Do you know your school’s bullying policy?

Why Anti-bullying Programs Miss the Mark

As I direct my focus to a new school year about to begin, I reflect back on the past school year and the approaches I’ve seen schools take to address school bullying among their students and their staff.  The one that really misses the mark is starting an anti-bullying program.

It is common for us to see something we don’t like and to join an anti-[fill in the blank] campaign.  We talk about, write about, and complain about how bad it is.  Our focus is on resisting the thing we don’t like, in this case bullying.  We push against it.  And that’s the problem.

What We Resist Persists

There’s an old saying: What we resist persists. Put another way, when we are negative about an issue, we perpetuate or spread negativity.

When we jump on the anti-bullying bandwagon, our attention, energy and focus are on the negativity of bullying. From this place of negativity, we lack emotional access to positive solutions. The anti name has a persistent negative influence.

As an alternative to a dooms day attitude or an angry approach, a more effective option is to recognize the bullying we see.  Name itBe curious about it.  Look at it from several angles.  But don’t stay stuck there.

Once we’ve gotten clear on what we are seeing and where it is coming from, work to clarify what we DO want. We want better social skills, social competence, emotional intelligence, social intelligence, healthy friendships, a positive culture, a positive climate, and positive role models.

A Springboard to Create a Replacement of Bullying Behavior

This positive focus gives us a springboard to create what we want.

Once we know what we want in bullying prevention, our job is to provide structures, training, and ongoing support for our students and for our school staff – all based on a focus of creating what we want, not on stopping what we don’t want.

Let’s replace those anti-bullying posters (of kids bullying or being bullied) with posters representing healthy friendships and acts of kindness. Start social skills training early. Put forth positive examples, language and visuals everywhere to influence your students in a positive way!

© 2011 A Way Through, LLC

Female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish A Way Through, LLC’s Guiding Girls ezine. If you’re ready to guide girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships, get your FREE mini audio workshop and ongoing tips now at www.AWayThrough.com.

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