Helping kids deal with peer pressure

Do you wonder how to help your child deal with peer pressure? We have a simple tip that makes a big difference.

The other day I was listening to my favorite podcast: The Life Coach School, with Brooke Castillo, and she was talking about weight loss.  (See below for a link to her podcast.)

In this episode, she was teaching the importance of making decisions ahead of time. For example, if you are trying to lose weight, and are going to a party later in the day, you should take a minute to plan ahead: Will I eat the appetizers and desserts? Will I drink the cocktails? Her tip was that if you think about the upcoming situation, you are more likely to make decisions in-line with your values and goals.

This is exactly the strategy Torie and I teach kids for dealing with peer pressure!

As a teenager, I often found myself in situations that I didn’t know how to handle: Did I want to drink a beer? Kiss this boy? Smoke a cigarette? Ditch school? It seemed like I was always in a position where I had to make a “big decision” about something I really hadn’t thought much about. If my friends started pressuring me, it became even more difficult.

The good news is that when kids make decisions ahead of time, they can choose ones that are in-line with their values (and ideally avoid decisions they regret).

Below are some ways you can help prepare your son or daughter for making good decisions:

  • Talk to them about their values and goals. What would they like to be doing in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? What steps will they need to take to get there? What could get in the way of their goals?
  • Brainstorm social situations where they might be unsure what to do or feel pressured to act a certain way. Talk about their different choices in these situations and which ones are most aligned to their values and goals.
  • Role-play different scenarios where your child can practice handling them in a way that feels good. (This is my favorite strategy. My kids love to role-play and we always have a lot of fun.)

Some possible situations:

  • Drinking alcohol at a party
  • Sending a mean/hurtful text or inappropriate picture
  • Getting into a car with someone who has been drinking
  • Stealing/Shoplifting
  • Playing a kissing game
  • Receiving a text while driving
  • Meeting someone online

The possibilities are endless (and you can adjust them based on the age of your child). Try role-playing with different outcomes and talk about how your child might feel after the fact, depending on his or her choices. Try to keep this activity light. Kids are more likely to be open to this if it doesn’t feel too heavy.

By thinking through their options, kids have a chance to make decisions when they aren’t feeling the pressure of the moment. Once these decisions have been made, it makes it much easier since they know how to respond.

Encourage your child to check back in with you if they find themselves in one of the situations you practiced together. How did it go? Did they find it easy or difficult to stick to their decision? How do they feel about their choice? Would they make the same choice again or a different one?

I would have greatly benefited from this strategy as a teen. As a mom, I am already applying this technique with my daughters and hope it makes their upcoming challenging situations a little easier.

To check out Brooke’s podcast: The Life Coach School (We aren’t being paid to promote her. She is just really amazing!)