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.
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.