It’s time for a new school year to begin. As you monitor grades, homework and schedules, don’t forget to watch for social changes that may be related to peer pressure.
Peer pressure is by definition:
Social pressure by members of one’s peer group to take a certain action, adopt certain values, or otherwise conform in order to be accepted.
Signs of Peer Pressure
Peer pressure is something all teens are forced to deal with at some point. It’s how they respond that is important. For boys this is where it can get messy; if dad isn’t around to guide him, he will look to his buddies for an example. Peer pressure can lead a boy down the wrong path. The risk for boys is that they think proving they’re a man means taking crazy risks to show their bravery. They can be drawn to negative groups like gangs, or to the boy who has the least amount of supervision at home to “hang out” with.
Signs to watch for:
- change in behavior – more isolated
- change in sleep habits – sleeps less
- change in appetite – eating less
- mood swings – dramatic/traumatic
- doesn’t want to talk or be with family – some of this behavior is common in adolescents
Suggestions to Stay Connected
Before this happens to you and your son, or if you are noticing these changes in behavior, here are some basic suggestions that can help him get through this critical time:
- diligently encourage dad to spend at least 3-5 hours a week with his son (if dad isn’t present, seek out a healthy male role model – uncle, stepfather, grandpa, friend – who can commit to time with the boy)
- give positive feedback and encouragement which helps build self-esteem (helps avoid bad choices)
- use good communication (conflict resolution skills)
- talk about how to say no (give him examples of how you handled peer pressure)
Sports are a great environment for boys, as well school clubs (chess, art, debate and Jr. ROTC) they provide activity and a sense of pride. Boy Scouts, religious and community activities are also great ways to engage with your son and give him a sense of mission. Remember boys are visual and physical! Your goal here should be to surround him with positive support by making sure he is in an environment that provides him an example.
Peer pressure is alive and well and requires your attention.
Adolescence is one of the most critical times in a young boy’s life. He begins to think about “the man he wants to become” and looks at who around him he wants to be like. If you follow me, you have heard me say how important it is for your son to have a healthy male role model (if dad is present, he is the first best example for his son). Important may be an understatement, it is imperative!
You can find more information on raising boys in my books “Saving Our Sons-A Parent’s Guide to Preparing Boy’s for Success” and “Generation of Men-How to raise your son to be a healthy man among men” available on Amazon.