Reading Donna’s post last week about the word ‘no’, reminded me of a fabulous program that we have all over the United States (and even internationally)..
Created right here at Iowa State the Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14 has made a difference in thousands of families in all 50 states and in over 25 countries.
I want to share this quote from the website:
“Parents want to protect their children, but it’s challenging. Youth need skills to help them resist the peer pressure that leads to risky behaviors. Research shows that protective parenting improves family relationships and decreases the level of family conflict, contributing to lower levels of substance use. ”
Sometimes taking the time as a family to participate in programs like SFP 10-14 seems daunting… but if we knew that by participating we could help our teens gain skills that might help them make good decisions when we weren’t around, wouldn’t it be worth it?
Find out more about the Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14.
If you have been able to take part in an SFP 10-14 program we would love to hear from you!
Think about it. “No” is a two letter word, one syllable, easy to pronounce. Easy – to use, that’s another matter. Remember last week when you got a call to do something you really didn’t want to do but you did it anyway because you thought you should. You didn’t want the rest of the parents or your friends to think you badly of you. You gave in to peer pressure even though you wanted to say no.
It works the same way for our kids. One or more friends (or maybe just acquaintances) will ask your child to do something she doesn’t want to, but the “no” gets stuck in her throat. A little practice can help children and teens feel more confident in belting out the two letter word or using refusal tactics.
Role play just what to say and how to do it. “No, I don’t want to.” “No, my parents won’t let me.” “No, you go ahead without me.” “No, that’s not me.” Other ideas are things like: start another activity, change the subject, leave the situation, and find new friends.
Let’s go back to that phone call I mentioned earlier and my favorite mantra of parents as role models. Does your child hear you saying “no”? Does he see you giving in and doing things you really don’t want to do? Show by example how to stand up for yourself and not get pressured.
Do you have ideas on how to teach a child to say “no” or even how you’ve learned to say “no” yourself?
Peer pressure and friends – it’s a combination that can be good or bad. I remember my best friend from those elementary grade years. We played together, sat by each other at school, rode the school bus, and had a great time at sleepovers. If one of us wanted to do something, so did the other. Fortunately we both grew up in families with similar values. Our parents knew each other and saw that us kids had fun – but within their guidance and supervision.
Parents, get to know your kids’ friends. Make your house the inviting place for everyone to hang out. Then be visible and interact with the kids. Note how your own child responds to others. Is he a leader or is she a follower? Do the kids seems to get along well or are there troublemakers? Talk to the other kids’ parents whenever you get a chance.
You can gently steer your child to friends you see as positive influences. Arrange play dates or have the whole family over for a BBQ. Enroll your child in clubs or activities with children who you think could be good friends. As children grow, parents have less and less influence over this part of their child’s life. Be cautious about pushing too hard on getting rid of friends you think are a bad influence. Kids will often rebel and do just the opposite of what you want.
That good friend from my early years – well, as we entered high school, our interests changed and so did our friendship. I found new friends and new experiences. Happily these friends never pressured me into doing anything I didn’t want to.
So parents, keep tabs on your kids’ friends. Know what is going on. It’s a key piece of peer pressure.
A University of Maryland article called “Peer Pressure Starts in Childhood” caught my attention last week. A study in the May/June 2013 issue of Child Development shared that as soon as children enter elementary school and begin forming friendships their peers begin to influence their decisions. A couple of quotes that I have been pondering on include:
“… Children begin to figure out the costs and consequences of resisting peer group pressure early. By adolescence, they find it only gets more complicated.”
“Children may need help from adults when they face conflicts between loyalty to the group and fairness to outsiders. They may be struggling to ‘do the right thing’ and still stay on good terms with friends in the group, but not know how. ”
As parents it’s important for us not to take early elementary friendships lightly. Talk with children about the games they are playing at school. Ask who else participates. Find out the conversations that are occurring. Share stories about games and groups that you participated in and the feelings you had during those experiences. You may be surprised at how long your child will talk with you about their own peer group interactions and the insights they are having.
Share with us some insights you may have had after talking with your elementary aged child about their friends.
Everyone is going, all the kids sneak candy into the theater and no one else has to be home by 11 p.m. When kids are facing peer pressure, how should parents respond? Kids of all ages may find peer pressure hard to resist. Often kids give in to peer pressure because they want to be liked; they want to have friends and be part of a group. Kids may be afraid that others will make fun of them if they are different or don’t go along with what’s being said or done. Sometimes kids give in to peer pressure because they want to try This month we will take a close look at the positive and negative aspects of peer pressure. We will offer ideas on how parents can help their children maintain friends while learning how to resist pressure and also standing up for what they believe is right.