Thursday, May 19, 2011

Helping Your Child Deal with Peer Pressure

The issue of teen use of drugs and alcohol is alarming, but parents can and do make a difference in a teen’s decision to use or not. Family researchers say you have to establish a firm “no use” drug and alcohol family rules. Once the rule has been established, there are some ideas from researches at Brown University about how to help your child deal with peer pressure and drugs.

Responding to peer pressure in a kind but firm tone of voice is the best way to go. Parents can role-play scenarios with teens and come up with ideas for catch phrases to legitimize their reasons for not using drugs, such as “I’ve tried that before and I don’t like the taste” or, “No, that’s not my kind of stuff.”

You might consider other reasons referring to consequences, such as “The one time I tried it, I got really sick and threw up all over the place.” Talk with your teen to see what phrases he or she might find easiest to use.

Another tactic your teen might use is to change the subject, and, if push comes to shove, leave the scene. I repeatedly told my then-adolescent children that if they were ever in an uncomfortable situation, they could call for a ride home – no questions asked! The issue is not always outside influences, but those within the family. When teens don’t feel their families support them, they are at a greater risk for problems.

Keep lines of communication open, use active listening while conveying support and concern, and calmly reinforce a “no use” rule of drugs and alcohol. These are the most effective way to help adolescents and teens resist using and/or depending on drugs and alcohol.

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