Peer Pressure: 3 Ways to Equip Your Kids

Peer Pressure from friends“Peer pressure” has become a mantra for parents lecturing their kids on the evils of teen social life. Kids are so tired of hearing about it that their brains automatically shut down when they hear the words.

Last week, I wrote about Jason, a middleschooler who was swayed by peer pressure to drink vodka at a friend’s house. But peer pressure was not the only problem.Jason had no positive reasons to abstain from alcohol, nor did he know how to say no.

Think, from an adult perspective, about the “Just Say No” message. Most of us do not say no to choices that look good and are enjoyed by our friends (think café mocha) without assessing consequences. Our kids seldom accept the message of posters and lectures unless they understand the reasons behind them.

There are three important ways to equip our children to say no to peer pressure involving drugs, alcohol and sex.

Give Them the Reason

Our bodies are temples of God. We need to keep our temples in good shape so that we will be ready to serve God in whatever way he calls us. One of the best analogies that speak to young people is that of an athlete. To excel in competition, an athlete prepares her body not only by doing activities that make it strong and skilled, but by avoiding activities that take away from performance. We are in a competition fighting for the Kingdom of God and do not want our bodies to fail us at a critical moment.

Give Them the Words

Kids don’t know how to say no without losing face. Give them some lines they can use when pressured. They might say something like: “Man, I don’t have any brain cells to spare tonight.” “I think I’ll pass tonight. I hate the way alcohol makes me feel the next day.” “I’ll be the designated driver.” (This is often said as a joke when no one is driving.) “I’m the designated driver on my bike.” Regarding sex, “I’ve made a purity commitment. But, I hope we can get to know each other as friends.”

Give Them Practice

Make sure your kids understand that they can say no without lecturing their friends or going into long explanations. One short line is usually accepted by peers. Do some brainstorming with them to find the best way to say no. They will appreciate being prepared when the need arises.

Question: How do you give your kids the reasons, the words, and the practice to withstand peer pressure?

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