Welcome to quarter three’s theme resisting peer pressure. There is no getting around it, peer pressure is a normal part of many young adults’ and teenagers’ formative years. How do we help our teens resist what their peers are telling them to? By giving them the tools and confidence to make good choices for themselves.
Making choices is something we do every day which ultimately determines our life direction. We learn from our choices, whether they are good or bad for us. Sometimes choices are made without all the correct information, they are made based on assumptions about a situation or a person.
Teens make choices from their point of life experience. How do we help them build confidence in themselves and trust their gut that the choices they are making are good for them? Let’s look at the three main sources of information our teens utilize to help them make choices.
Help from their peers
It is hard to follow your gut, when your friends are telling you to do the opposite. – Sharon McAleer from Mentoring A Dream
Teens tend to trust their peers more than adults. They feel better about confiding in them.
When the peers are chosen for help with a choice, the friend’s experience level may be very similar to the teen making the choice. The peer may only be able to confirm the choice the teen is making and not be able to provide many if any reasons to change their mind, unless it is something that is obviously a good thing for them to do or a bad thing. Sometimes this can backfire and turn into peers daring the teen to do something risky to prove they aren’t scared to do it or to make fools out of themselves.
Help from the Adults in their lives
As much as teens try and do things on their own, they sometimes need to have some direction from those who have been in their shoes before.
The main motivator for who they will chose from this group to help them will be who they feel comfortable with and have built trust with. They are looking to tap into those life experiences of the ones who have been there before. These influencers probably have intimate knowledge of the teen coming to them for help, so they can guide them. The risk here is sometimes this guiding can turn into what they want for the teen and not what is best for them. Or they may try to protect them from getting hurt by advising them to do a safer option.
Adults in a teen’s life have the teens best interests at heart, so may know the most about them to make a good decision. But they may try to protect them from consequences, so they may be too protective.
Help from the internet
What do we do when we need an answer to something? We will take our search to the internet. So, why would teens be any different about looking for answers?
There are so many sites on the internet. And for every site there is, there may be a different answer to the question being asked. So, a teen may be able to find an answer, but how reliable is the information being provided? And where are they finding it? This is the scariest part of using this option to make choices from. And this may be an answer being used frequently by teens to make their choices.
With the lack life experience that teens have, they may not be able to sort out what is good information and what isn’t from what is being presented to them. The internet search is like gambling. Depending on the site they choose to get their information from may determine what they do.
How can we help teens and young adults make good choices?
Help them build confidence in their own choices to resist the pressure from their peers
We won’t always be there when the peer pressure situations come around. So, be available to help teens look at the information they have about their choice. Sorting out what others are telling them can either help or confuse listening to their own gut, making their own choice, and resisting peer pressure.
Support the fact that they are reaching out to gather information to help them make a choice. It means that they want to make a good decision and aren’t just making one to make someone else happy or to fit in. As far as who provides the best information to help make their choice? It is hard to say. Probably depends on the situation. The choice the teen ultimately makes needs to be made from their gut, taking into account what feels right to them, whether the choice is good or bad. Because part of their life journey is learning from the choices they make.
One method to try. When making a choice for themselves, I ask my kids how to you feel about it? Does it feel good or does it feel bad? Then explain that how you feel about it is what your gut is telling you to do. Thinking about it this way helps them make that choice for themselves. And, practicing this method will help them learn to trust their gut.
Coaching them on how to make good choices is just part of the equation. As this quarter continues, we will talk about how to support our teens and young adults in the consequences of the choices they make.
The Hard Way is about making choices
The Hard Way is the first book in The Way Series by Selma P. Verde. It is the story of Paul Jones and his navigating peer pressure to make choices. He had a hard time making a decision about what to do, but stayed loyal to his friends and it lead to big consequences. Follow the link below to pick up a copy today and find out what choices he makes and how it affects him and his friends.
And, for more information about peer pressure, click on this link to our focus on the subject of peer pressure on the website. Mentoring A Dream – Peer Pressure