Everyone needs to belong and feel connected with others; this need for acceptance, approval, and belonging is especially important during the teen years. Adolescents who feel isolated from family or rejected by friends are more likely to engage in risky behaviors. Peer pressure can impair good judgment and lure a teen away from positive influences and into activities that could result in negative consequences. Therefore, it is vital that parents closely monitor their child’s friends and activities. The good news is that 65% of teens surveyed say that their friends model responsible behavior!
What can parents do to encourage their teens to develop healthy peer relationships?
- Maintain a positive relationship with your teen. When parents and their teens have a warm, caring and loving relationship the teen’s self-esteem, mental health, and social skills are healthier. He will be better equipped to handle the pressures he will face during these ever-changing days.
- Get involved and stay involved! Attend his sports activities, school functions, and show genuine interest in the things that matter to him. This provides you an opportunity to meet his friends, informally monitor his behavior, and let him know how important he is to you!
- Make an effort to get to know his friends and their parents. Other parents can be great help if you band together to ‘look out’ for one another’s children.
- Do not attack your child’s friends because of their appearance. Teens are very protective of their peers and will take your comments personally. It is better to talk with your teen about behavior and choices- not friends.
- Talk with him often about your concerns and expectations. Stay calm but let him know why you feel apprehensive about his choice of a particular friend. Set firm boundaries and high expectations.
- Teach him how to say ‘no’ to harmful activities and negative peer pressure by role- playing situations that he may encounter. Encourage independent thinking and decisions based on principles- not other people.
Model appropriate friendships. Be certain that you maintain relationships with people who reflect your values and lifestyle.