Peer pressure

Many parents of teenagers worry about the influence their children's friends can have in the form of peer pressure. A Family Lives survey revealed that most parents believe friends and peers are the biggest influence on their teenagers. While your teen's friends do play a role in the choices they make, the value of a parent's influence is still hugely important.

What children learn from their friends and the effects of peer pressure

"Our son's out of control, he's been suspended from school twice, and is in a really bad crowd," one distraught parent told us. 

Parents are concerned that the teenage years seem to be starting long before children actually hit 13. At around the age of ten, some parents have said that their children seem to grow up very fast, shutting out their parents and wanting to spend more time with their friends. 

Then, by the time their children become fully fledged teenagers, they no longer wanted to talk to them about major issues such as sex, relationships and drugs, believing instead that their teen mates and the media are more influential role models. 

The good news is that research actually shows many young people really would prefer to be able to talk about important topics such as sex, relationships, and drugs with  their parents, rather than getting a distorted view from bits of information they pick up here and there from friends and the media. 

Talking to your teen about peer pressure

If you're worried about peer pressure, one of the best things you can do is to create an environment in the home where your teenager can talk openly about anything that's worrying them.

It's often easier to introduce important topics while doing something else together - whether that's taking a walk or just doing the washing up, it can be more comfortable than sitting down for a big conversation. You can even use stories in the media to approach difficult subjects and find out what your teenager knows and how they are feeling.

Let them know that they can always come to you if they're worried about something, and make sure you remain calm and open when they do. Let them talk, and really listen before you respond. Once they know they can be honest, and get an honest response from you, they will find it much easier to come to you for support.

peer pressure

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