Many parents of teenagers worry about the influence their children's friends can have in the form of peer pressure. 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.
Understanding peer pressure
For a young person, having solid friendships is an integral part of their lives. Being a part of a friendship group can give your teenager a sense of belonging and be a positive element in their lives. Peer pressure is not always something to worry about as it can as simple as introducing something different to a young person’s life such as new music, fashion, or experiences. However, there are times when the influences of a friendship group can be negative or risky, and they may encourage wrong choices and decisions. This is when a situation can become a concern for parents and carers.
Talking to your teen
Understand that they may be feeling under pressure to do something they are not comfortable with. If you're worried, 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.
Building their resilience
Teach your child to have the confidence to make positive choices and say no to something that does not sit right with them. Having a strong sense of self can help them build resilience against any forms of adversity in their lives. Encourage them to get to know who they are, what values they hold and help them take time out to work on themselves.
Encourage your child or teen to see the bigger picture when faced with adversity. Share your experiences with them so they can see you understand what they are going through. Let them know that everything has a process and sometimes we have to go through these things to come out the other end stronger.
Young people will only learn to value themselves if those around them first value them. Give them lots of positive encouragement and praise. This will give them the necessary springboard to be assertive and have the confidence to say no to peer influence and pressure.
It may help to chat to other parents on our forums to find out how they are dealing with this issue within their family life. You can also talk to us online via our live chat service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on our helpline on 0808 800 2222 to speak to trained family support worker.
Watch our video on peer pressure for further tips