I find one of the issues I deal with on a regular basis in my practice is this one: Peer Pressure!
Peer Pressure-Not to Be Underestimated
Peer pressure is something all kids are forced to deal with at some point. Commonly it happens at school and/or the neighborhood kids that get together to play. It’s how you teach your child to respond that is important.
For boys, which is my expertise, it can get messy very fast; if a boy doesn’t have dad around to guide him he’ll look to his buddies for, or as his example. Peer pressure can lead a boy down the wrong path quickly. The risk is they think proving they’re a man means doing crazy things like shoplifting, drinking, smoking or bullying to name a few. The goal is to show they’re brave! They can be drawn to gangs, or to the boy who has the least amount of supervision at home to “hang out.”
5 Signs to Watch For:
- change in behavior – more isolated and withdrawn
- change in sleep habits – sleeps less
- change in appetite – eating less/weight loss
- mood swings – dramatic/traumatic and unpredictable
- doesn’t want to talk or be with family – some of this behavior is/can be common in adolescents
Stay Connected-He Needs You
Before this happens to you and your son, here are some basic suggestions that can help him get through this critical time:
- 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 him positive feedback and encouragement which helps build his self-esteem (helps avoid bad choices)
- practice good communication using the conflict resolution tool
- give him examples of how you handled peer pressure when you were young
- talk about how to say no when he’s faced with pressure from peers
Sports are a great environment for boys, as well as school clubs like chess, art, debate and Jr. ROTC. They provide activity and a sense of pride and achievement. Boy Scouts, religious and community activities are also great ways to engage your son and give him a sense of mission (organizations with a proven track record and that are research based).
Remember boys are innately visual and physical! Your goal is to surround him with good positive support by making sure he is in an environment that provides a positive example for him.
Peer pressure is alive and well and requires you to pay attention to the 5 signs above. Has your son dealt with peer pressure? Post your questions or comments below or on my Facebook page.