"Just say no" just won't cut it if parents hope to persuade children to make smart choices about drugs. You need to look at your own issues and beliefs around drugs and alcohol so that you feel clear about it yourself. It sometimes is better to give kids an honest answer when they ask, "Did you do it?".
You do not have to tell all but it sets up more of a connection if you're willing to be honest with your teen. The message to avoid drugs needs to be absolutely clear, he said. Saying it's all right to get high on weekends, or marking adult celebrations with raucous drinking, is bound to make an impression. Adults may need to make changes in their own lives to send a consistent message.
It's important to have a dialogue, rather than give a lecture.
It might not stop kids from doing drugs altogether, but the approach will make them think harder when confronted by the chance to experiment. When I tlk to teens about drugs I explain the effect of drugs on developing brains, and the relative potency of drugs today compared with those that were popular in the 60s and 70’s. I also addressed the particular issue of edible marijuana. These "edibles" pose a double threat: Not only are they much stronger than marijuana that is smoked, kids also may make the mistake of eating several before realizing how hard the drug will hit.
Once (the high) comes on all of a sudden, they're tripping. They're breaking from personality and getting into a kind of psychosis. You're leaving your ego. It can be interesting or it can be really, really scary. Instead of a two- to three-hour high from smoking, edibles can cause a six- to eight-hour high. The issue with edibles, is that they can lead to a hallucinogenic experience.
Kids can become terrified because they're on this bad trip, especially because they don't know what is going on. What they experience first is, 'I'm going crazy. I don't think I'm going to come back the way I left.' The heart starts to beat faster, and that kind of feeds on itself.
I suggest a three-part approach to a conversation about drugs.
"Tell your child, 'I love you.' Explain to your tee that you see all this stuff (drug use) everywhere and that it scares you. Then, just listen to their response. That usually begins a productive dialogue with our teen.
It's important you as a parent, don't just say “no because I say so,” or “no because it's illegal,” If all you say is “no” the response you may encounter is ”'Yes, yes, yes.”
Thom Kessler, LMFT, RAS
Peer pressure takes place when a child does something he or she does not want to do as a result of being pressured by peers. Peer pressure is a part of almost all children's lives. All children experience peer pressure and give in to it at one time or another. While parents can't protect their children from experiencing peer pressure, there are steps they can take to minimize its effects.
Why is examining peer pressure so important?
Peer pressure is the cause of a lot of teenage smoking, drinking and drug use. Those things alone are not good, but they also affect children’s education. We know the affects of drugs and alcohol on the brain and learning that is why peer pressure studies are so important.
Peer influences have been found to be among the strongest predictors of drug use during adolescence. It has been argued that peers initiate youth into drugs, provide drugs, model drug-using behaviors, and shape attitudes about drugs. There was a study done to determine how much peer pressure affected adolescent drug use. They also used the variable of family. For example, were you more likely to give in to peer pressure if you were from a single parent home, with no father, over someone who came from a two-parent home? Or were you more likely to follow the crowd if you lived with a stepparent?
The results of this study indicated that peer pressure and peer drug models were related to drug use, but that the strength of this relationship was moderated by family structure and mother–adolescent distress. In particular, the relationship between peer pressure and reported drug use was weaker among adolescents living in homes with fathers or stepfathers than among those living without fathers or stepfathers; similar effects were not found for peer drug models. Among adolescents living with their fathers, father–adolescent distress was not related to overall drug use and did not moderate the influence of either peer variable. In contrast, mother–adolescent distress was significantly related to drug use, with adolescents who rated their relationships more positively reporting lower levels of drug use. Mother–adolescent distress also moderated the relationship between peer variables and drug use.
However, for peer pressure this only occurred among adolescents living in homes without fathers or stepfathers. Among these adolescents, higher levels of mother–adolescent distress were associated with increasingly stronger relationships between peer pressure and drug use. The strong relations between peer variables and the frequency of drug use found within this study replicated the findings of previous studies that have found peer variables to be among the strongest predictors of adolescents’ drug use.
If the negative effect of peer pressure is to be minimized, youth, parents, school and community leaders must come together to establish workable and effective strategies to guide teen behavior and to support their transition from children to mature, responsible adults. Here are several strategies to consider (Brown, 1990):
Relinquish the stereotype of peers as a uniformly negative influence on youth. Although some teenage peer groups encourage drug use, delinquent activities and poor school performance, others discourage deviant activity in favor of school achievement and involvement in sports or other extra-curricular activities (e.g., music, religious activities).
Nurture teenagers' abilities and self-esteem so they can forge positive peer relationships. The parent, schools and other agencies can be taught how to help develop the adolescent's self-concept and self-worth so he or she is a valued person.
Empower parents and educators to help teenagers pursue and maintain positive peer relationships. They can provide adolescents with the opportunity to succeed in constructive ways which are valued by the teen, the parent and the community alike.
Encourage cross-ethnic and "cross-class" peer interactions and guide teenagers in dealing positively with cultural diversity and individual differences. Parents, teachers, community leaders, and clergy can model appreciation for ethnic differences and support cross-class and cross-ethnic friendships. Schools and youth organizations can assist by encouraging youth from diverse backgrounds to work and play together.
Place sensible restraints on part-time teen employment. This could ease adolescents' compliance with peer pressures to "buy" acceptance into a peer group (i.e., to have enough money for the "right" clothes, the "right" shoes, the "right CDs, etc.). Increases in part-time employment among youth have had little impact on the time they spend with peers.
Support parent education programs for families with teenagers. Parents need to be better informed about the dynamics of adolescent peer groups and the demands and expectations teenagers face in peer relationships.
Establish intervention programs for preadolescents with low social skills or aggressive tendencies. Addressing these problems before adolescence will decrease the chances of these youth joining anti-social peer groups that will reinforce their problem behaviors.
Realizing how much impact peer pressure has on children's lives and their future, it is a must that we learn more about it and teach coping ways so that children will know how to deal with it. Yet, we need to acknowledge that children are not the only ones dealing with it, parents are too. They have to worry about their children and what types of friends they have and who they are hanging around with. The information above were suggestions I found throughout many articles for parents who need ways to help their children deal with peer pressure.
Advice For Parents
Sometimes parents tend to react before they think things through, when it comes to their children. If they feel a set of friends are not who their children should be around they forbid them to ever hang with them again without coming up with the best solution.
Sometimes telling an adolescent that they cannot see a certain group of friends leads to rebellion or loss of communication between the parent and child, which is never good. Here is some advice for parents dealing with children with friends that they think are bad influences:
Thom Kessler, LMFT, RAS
Marriage & Family Therapist and Registered Addiction Specialist