Teach your child to choose friends wisely

It’s important that our kids have friends who are caring, accepting and kind. Teach your children what being a good friend means so they can be a good friend to others and also find friends who treat them with respect and compassion.

Dealing With Peer Pressure

Peer pressure often starts in early childhood with children trying to get other kids to play the games they want or exclude other children. It can become more serious in the preteen and teen years as smoking, alcohol and drugs become the subject of pressure.   

By middle school, children tend to spend more time with their peers and less time with their parents. This often leads kids to look to those peers for opinions, reinforcement and acceptance.

Peer pressure is not always negative. In fact friends often encourage each other to study, try out for sports or to try new interests in the arts. But in these years, kids often experiment in an attempt to find their identity and feel “larger than life.” And this sometimes leads children to take risks that are unsafe and unhealthy.

It is especially hard for your child to turn down his closest friend or the “cool” kids. Do not wait until you see the warning signs that your child is in trouble; deal ahead of time with the inevitable pressure your children will be under by talking to your children.

1. Tell them about Peer Pressure.

You know they’ll be influenced by peer pressure, so tell them before anything happens: “One of your friends is going to tell you it’s cool to: exclude other friends, lie to your parents or smoke.” Encourage them to think of both the short and long-term consequences:  “you would not be able to play or favorite sport or you could get cancer if you smoke.”

Show them you are a source of information on this topic. You’ve been there, done that. Offer your opinion, but don’t lecture.

2. Role Play the Words

Practicing peer pressure resistance is important. Finding creative ways to refuse alcohol, tobacco and drugs requires humor and lots of practice. Children, especially younger children, love to pretend. So set a scene as if you and your child were characters in a story. Role-play saying no to things that your child knows are harmful or against the rules, such as playing with matches, stealing a cookie or smoking a cigarette.

Kids are more likely to be offered alcohol, tobacco or other drugs from friends than from strangers. And it's a lot tougher for kids to say no to their friends. The best way to prepare children to deal with these situations is to prepare them by practicing similar scenarios in advance. When the time comes, your child will know exactly what to say so they can say no and get out of touch situation without losing their friends. 

What are good ways to say no when your son or daughter is offered drugs? Simple answers are often best. "No, thanks." "No way, I don't do that stuff." "No, I gotta go." "No way, we've got a big soccer game next week, I don't want to risk it."

3. Always bail them out

Tell them that no matter how awful the circumstances you will always bail them out without punishing them. Let them know that no matter how late it is, or how busy you are, you want to be called to get them out of a situation they know isn’t good.

The Resistance Skills - Techniques For Saying “No!”

Here are some steps that you can practice with your child to make it easier for him or her to refuse harmful behaviors.  Review the following until she becomes accustomed to and comfortable in refusing alcohol and other drugs or anything she knows is harmful or wrong.

1. Ask Questions

Especially if unknown substances are offered.  Tell your child to ask “What is it?” and “Where did you get it?”  If your child is invited to a friend’s house teach them to ask “Who else is invited?”  “Do your parents know you invited me over?”  and “Will your parents be there?”

2.  Say No!

This seems much simpler than it is and will take some practice.  Tell your child: Don’t argue; don’t discuss.  Say NO and show that you mean it.

3.  Give Reasons

It’s important your child is clear and concise.  “No thanks, I don’t want to drink or smoke.”  or “Coach says drugs will hurt my game” are ample reasons that youngsters can use.  And don’t forget the oldest reason: “My parents will kill me!”

4. Suggest Other Things To Do

If a friend is offering tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs saying NO is difficult.  Your child should be prepared to suggest something else to do like play a game or go to a movie.  Emphasize that he isn't rejecting a friend, it is the harmful behavior he's resisting.

5. Leave

If your child has tried all these steps and is still being confronted with harmful behavior, it’s important she gets out of the situation immediately.  Tell her to come directly home, if she's at school go directly to class or join another group of friends.