How to Peer Pressure Proof Your Teen
What if you could peer pressure proof your teen?
My guess is that you would be pretty excited.
In my time working with teens I have seen how much peer pressure teens face.
Pressure to fit in.
Pressure to have sex.
Pressure to act like they know about sex. Pressure to drink. Pressure to be cool. Pressure to be different than everybody else.
From my vantage point most of the time when a teen succumbs to peer pressure it is because they aren't confident about themselves. Their self-worth is low. Not all of the time, but most of the time.
So, the question is how can you help peer pressure proof your teen. By boosting their self-worth. Below are 3 ways you can boost your teen's self-worth.
Words of Affirmation
The old phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is only half true. Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can also hurt you. The words you say can either build up or tear down your teen.
Your teen needs you to praise them for the things that they do well. Your teen needs you to praise the positive character traits that you see in them. Your teen needs you to praise them for being themselves.
There will be times that you need to tell your teen that what they are doing is wrong and you will need to discipline them, however, the majority of what you say to your teen needs to be affirming.
Now, when you are affirming your teen please don’t lie. Teens know when you are lying and if you lie about what you are praising them for they will think there is nothing real for you to praise them for and that you are having to make up things. This will not build up their self-worth, in fact it will tear it down.
A great place to start is to catch your teen doing things well. Often when talking with teens, they think that their parents exist to catch them doing things wrong and are waiting to point out all of the things they are doing wrong. So, catch them doing things well.
Side Note: Having your teen start to think that you are trying to catch them doing good and not trying to catch them doing bad will open the conversational floodgates with them.
Give Them Difficult Tasks and Don’t Helicopter
It can be tempting to helicopter over someone after giving them a difficult task.
My tendency at work is to give one of my teammates a difficult task and then helicopter over them and wait to jump in and rescue them when it gets rough. Here’s the thing. When I do that, I am not building their self-worth. All I am doing it building a need for me to be the hero.
The same is true with your teen.
Your teen needs to figure out how to do hard tasks, without you being a helicopter and jumping in at the first point of struggle. This doesn’t mean that you don’t need to jump in at some point. If your teen decides that the easiest way to clean the barn is to use dynamite, you need to step in.
When your teen accomplishes the difficult task by themselves it will build their self-worth.
Set High But Reasonable Standards
The temptation is to set low standards so teens feel great once they accomplish the task.
The reality is, that teens know when the task is too easy. They are smart. Setting standards too low communicates to the teen that they can’t really handle the task and that they don’t have what it takes to accomplish the task. This lowers their self-worth.
On the other hand, setting unreasonably high standards also lowers a teens self-worth. I have seen smart and amazing teens think that they are dumb because their parents expected them to only get straight A’s.
The key is balance. Set high standards that will take work and dedication to be met. This will lead to an increase in self-worth in your teen.
100% Peer Pressure Proof?
But this is a good starting point.
Even when your teen has high self-worth they will fall prey to peer-pressure. However, the higher the less likely they are to make a decision based on trying to please another person.
They are much more likely to make a decision on their beliefs and what they think is the best. And isn’t that what we all want for teens.
What other things have you found helpful in boosting your teen’s self-worth?
Mike has worked with teens and parents for 13+ years. Mike has been married to Natalie for 10 years. They love living near downtown Holland. Mike prides himself on being left-handed and even has a left-handed clock in his office that confuses the majority of those who glance at it!