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Part II – Helping Students Resist Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is a part of a teenager’s life. But, teachers and parents can empower students with the tools they need to combat this peer pressure and use it in their best interests.

Peer pressure is real, and it’s powerful. It can be as innocuous as keeping up with the fashion trends in the middle school or as threatening as sliding into drug abuse. While students cope with peer pressure in different ways, the onus falls on the parents and teachers to guide them in the right direction. Parents and teachers should spread awareness among students about the support system they have access to and teach them to tap into those resources at the right time.

Recognize it Exists

The first step for parents and teachers towards helping a student is to identify with their situation. Denying the existence of peer pressure or underplaying it does not help. If anything, it will drive the child away from you. They will not relate with your advice, or worse, recognize you as a reliable source of information. So, the first step adults can take to help students resist peer pressure is to acknowledge its existence.

Helping them Spot the Difference

Teachers and parents should help students spot the difference between negative and positive peer pressure. They should know that there is a clear demarcation between a peer pushing them to become a better athlete and another forcing them to take up performance-enhancing drugs. A good move would be to implement programs like SEL Adventures at school that help students clearly demarcate between positive and negative peer relationships. These programs give students all the tools they need to make better choices.

Applying Positive Pressure

Middle school is a time when most parents think that their kids are turning rebellious. However, it is common at this age for children to either imitate their parents, do activities to get their attention, or indulge in things that please their parents. So, parents must identify the kind of power they wield over their child too. Once they do, they can use this power to help their children become better at academics, become more active on the playground, and stand up for themselves against a bully.

Show Confidence

Lastly, parents and teachers should express confidence in their kids. Students should know that there is always somebody to listen to them, and somebody they can go back to even if they fail. This confidence increases their confidence in themselves and minimizes the influence of peers on their life.

Show Them the Way

Parents and teachers are an important contributor to the life of a child. They can share their own experiences, give students a comforting ear, or act as a guide in their formative years. Apart from this, investing in programs like SEL Adventures provides the students with structured information on how to tackle their everyday peer pressures.

Peer pressure is a reality for every middle-schooler. Parents and teachers should pressure-mold the students to make them a productive member of society and not the opposite.

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Part II: 5 Ways Teachers Can Nurture Self-Aware Middle Schoolers

The article talks about the role of teachers in teaching middle-schoolers become more self-aware to create a thriving and positive school environment

Self-awareness is a complex subject. Even adults have a tough time grappling with it. However, the good news is that self-awareness, like any science, can be taught. With the right tools, pedagogy, and intent, schools can teach kids to hone their self-awareness skills. With the proper knowledge, young students can go on to become productive members of their communities. Here are the top 5 ways in which teachers nurture self-aware middle-schoolers.

Encourage Kids to Journal

Keeping a journal is an excellent way for students to connect with themselves. A simple act of putting their thoughts and their daily activities in writing brings new perspectives into their thinking. Students will reminisce what they did and how it affected them and others around them. A journal helps them relive the day and identify the moments they missed or overlooked. Such a daily activity builds patience and helps them get better every day.

Identifying Strengths & Weaknesses

Every child is different. They come from unique backgrounds, live vibrant and diverse lives, and have access to distinct sets of resources. Teachers should appreciate the diversity and help students appreciate them too. When they understand their strengths and find a safe space to talk about their weaknesses, they are more likely to work on them. Discussing weaknesses should not be taboo, and teachers should make an effort to make a classroom environment that allows just that.

Make Academics Relatable

When a subject is taught in class, teachers should try to connect it to the experiences and personal memories of students. For instance, if the class is about the French Revolution, teachers should ask questions like – “When was the last time you felt you needed to raise your voice against something?” This helps students reminisce, search through their memory bank and find relevant memories. Discussing these in the class will help them understand the subject and themselves better. It will also give them perspective. When multiple students share their experiences, they will realize that they are not going through certain emotions alone, and such an experience can be extraordinarily empowering.

Focus on Self-Awareness

Apart from teaching self-awareness as a side subject, teachers can also encourage schools to add self-awareness to their formal curriculum. With structured programs like SEL Adventures around, teachers can easily find all the classroom instructions, subject content, and activity suggestions in one place. It makes it easy for students to grasp the significance of self-awareness, learn quickly, and apply that knowledge via expertly designed activities.

Teaching Self-Awareness Made Easy

Self-awareness plays a crucial role in the development of a child and has a critical bearing on their future. Teaching self-awareness to students from a young age also improves the school climate and results in a highly productive learning environment. Schools have a huge incentive to provide their teachers with the right tools to teach their students to be self-aware.

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Part II: How Good Teachers Create Good Decision Makers Out Of Their Students?

We already discussed the importance of making good decisions. In the second part of the article, we discuss how teachers can encourage students to acquire the necessary skills.

Teachers want their students to make good choices – whether they are academic, social, or emotional. Decision-making skills help students to gain confidence and become independent. With strong encouragement, students learn to differentiate between good and bad decisions, start trusting their gut, and rely on themselves whenever faced with a difficult situation. Teachers are in a position to foster a classroom environment that helps them nurture good decision-makers. Here is how they can do it.

Expect Better

The trust placed in the students to carry out a responsibility or make the right choices instills confidence in a child. Good teachers believe in their students. This belief makes students feel responsible, and they put more thought into doing the tasks assigned to them. Teachers who always concentrate on the shortcomings of their students, end up with tired and stubborn students who do not take responsibility for their actions or their consequences.

Listen to Them

Good teachers provide students space where they can speak their mind. This is an essential part of a good decision-making process. Ask students how they arrived at a decision and afford them the time to explain themselves and provide feedback. This will inculcate accountability into their decisions. Children make impulsive and snap decisions. However, when they have an authority figure who wants to understand their decisions, they will put more thought into it. This process will also help them feel that the decisions they are making are important and add to their self-worth.

Coach Them

Good decision-making is a skill, and it takes time to master. So, it will be wrong to expect students to make the best decisions right away. They need proper guidance and room to make mistakes before they can start making better decisions. This can be done by teaching decision-making skills as part of the curriculum and engaging students in class and outdoor activities that require them to make decisions. Such low-impact decisions are critical learning tools. They will help students take the difficult first step towards decision-making and then step back and analyze their consequences on others. Programs like SEL Adventures provide students all the tools they need to create good decision-makers out of their students.

Good decision Makers Can Change the World

Teachers are the agents of change. When they listen, understand, and coach students to become good decision-makers, they are creating productive members of the community. When every member understands the gravity of the decisions they take, it can uplift whole communities to be better versions of themselves and thrive.

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Part I: The Importance of Making Good Decisions

The article impresses upon the importance of good decisions and why students need to learn how to make them.

Decision-making is a skill. Life is a series of decisions, their consequences, and more decisions in response to those consequences. So, when life presents an opportunity to make a decision, an individual should have the skill to make good decisions and make them quickly. This skill must be acquired from a young age, and social-emotional learning programs like SEL Adventures help students to do just that. The importance of making good decisions in life cannot be stressed enough. Let’s break it down to understand it better.

Long-term Impact

Every decision you make has a bearing on your future. It may take only a few seconds for a student to make a decision, but its impact may last a lifetime. One of the signs of a good decision is that it is taken after due deliberation. So, students should be taught the importance of taking their time to analyze a situation first and then make an informed decision. After all, one good decision can help students to push forward in life and become the individuals they want to. It also helps them avoid regrets and live a life they had always dreamed of.

Creating Leaders

Leaders have the aptitude for decision-making. They make good decisions, and for this reason, people trust them to lead. It falls upon the schools and parents of today to create the leaders of tomorrow. So, they must teach their kids to make good decisions. Leaders do not take decisions only when a problem presents itself to them. They make decisions when they want to change the status quo.

It’s a Life Skill

Good decisions create a better tomorrow. With problems like substance abuse, high dropout rates, and shocking suicide rates, there is a dire need for good decision-making skills among students. They should be able to understand others’ intentions, weigh in the consequences, and then make good decisions. This will allow them to have a fulfilling childhood and a successful future.

Making a Difference

Although we have full control over the decisions we make, we do not always have control over the impact of those decisions on other people. Good decisions help people to have a positive effect on the lives of others too. An elder sibling can guide the younger one in making good decisions. Those decisions can include pursuing higher studies, following a passion, investing time in self-improvement, or something else. Good decisions snowball and help improve lives.

Good decision-making is an integral part of everyday life. Students need role models to understand, appreciate, and learn good decision-making. Schools can also adopt programs like SEL Adventures that teach students the makings of a good decision and provide teachers with a structured curriculum to teach in classrooms.