The school bell has rung and the new school year is in full force. No matter where we live, or where our children go to school, all kids have something in common; they will be faced with peer pressure. As parents, there is much we can do to help our children prepare for, and deal with the pressure that will come from their peers.
1. Believe in our kids, they will believe in us.
Our kids need to know WE believe in them. We know they can make right choices and we know they are strong. Tell them. Point out their good choices and the consequences of right choices. Point out their strengths.
We as parents also need to make right choices. Are we being the best parents we can be? Our children should expect that we would protect them, and do what is best for them. Even if they grumble, or disagree, it is our job to stand our ground and do what is best, not be their BFF.
2. Communicate with our Children: The 3 B’s: (Be Available, Be Present, Be Patient)
As parents, we need to keep the lines of communication open with our children. Especially as they start into their teenage years. How can we do this? Start young, very young, and be available, present and patient.
First, we have to be available. It we are not available, how can our children/teenagers talk to us. We don’t have to announce that we are ready to talk, we have to naturally be there. Be there after school, turn the music off when driving in the car, eat a meal together, be awake when kids come home. Find something that your child likes to do and do it with them. It is the perfect time to not only allow our children to tell us what they are dealing with, but, it is a time for us to talk to them about the pressures that they might be feeling at school and with their friends. We have been there, we know what is going on. Sometimes our kids need us to bring things up because they don’t know how.
Once we have made time and are available, we need to be present. We need to stop thinking about all the other things we need to do, and really be in the conversations. Give our children our undivided attention.
Last, be patient and realize that communication happens over time. It is built on trust and experience. Always be available and present, and our children will start to open up.
3. Express Love
Knowing we are loved gives us confidence and strength. Even if a child does something wrong, NEVER withhold love as a consequence. Our children should know that our love is unconditional.
4. Be Confident Parents: We matter more than peers.
Naturally, children do not want to disappoint their parents, this can single handedly keep children from falling to peer pressure.
5. Role Play
This is a powerful way for us to prepare our children to fight against peer pressure. Be the forceful friend and “act out” different real life situation.
Ask hard questions….
- “What if someone offers you drugs”?
- “What if your friend asks you to steal something”?
Work through what your child could say. It will make it so much easier when it really happens. It is like a memory reflex and the answers will come to your child much easier. They won’t be caught off guard when it happens.
6. Talk about peer pressure.
Tell our children about peer pressure, explain what it feels like, why it happens, and when you have had it happen to you. Give them examples of times when you were faced with peer pressure and how you overcame it. Or, if appropriate, when you fell to peer pressure and the consequences for your decisions. There is strength in our children knowing we understand because we have been there. As parents when you see peer pressure happening, point it out. Our children can have a hard time seeing it.
7. Set rules…AND…Follow through
Set rules, for the every day, and if they fall to peer pressure (ex, drink the beer). Make the consequences VERY CLEAR, and…enforce the consequences. We can talk all we want, but if we don’t follow through, our children will know they can get away with breaking the rules. Make it clear to your children that just because “everyone was doing it”, doesn’t mean that it is okay.
8. Don’t let kids stay the night
Sleeping away from home makes it a lot easier for our children to fall to peer pressure. Why, because they don’t have to come home to their parents. There can be too much freedom away from home for an extended period of time.
9. Wait up for your child
Be awake when your kids come home. Teens will think twice about falling to peer pressure when they have to come home and face you. It is also a really good time for you to be present and talk with your kids about their night.
10 Encourage Opinions
It is okay for our children to have an opinion. In fact we want them to have opinions about what is right and wrong, and how they feel about sex, drugs and alcohol. Help them develop their opinions. Have conversations where you help your children think through the how’s and why’s. Teach them to be critical thinkers. It will give them confidence, and children with opinions are more likely to speak their minds, which is exactly what they need to do to stand up to peer pressure.
11. Teach Conflict Resolution
We deal with conflict our entire lives; at home, at work, at school. Standing up to peer pressure can bring conflict. Teaching our children conflict management skills will not only prepare them for peer pressure, but, prepare them for life. Home is a great place to practice dealing with conflict. As a parent, when there is a problem, we want to jump in and fix it. Don’t. Let children do all they can to work out a resolution on their own. You will be surprised to find that kids can, and will solve their own arguments and conflicts.
12. Teach our kids how to choose good friends.
Our children need to be taught social skills, and how to choose good friends, and be a good friend. Encourage them to choose friends with similar core values and beliefs. Teach them what friendship means, and how good friends treat each other. (A good friend doesn’t pressure you to do anything).
13. There will be mistakes, don’t make them public
When our children do fall to peer pressure, don’t make it public. Spreading the word about your child’s poor choices will not help them make better choices. It will just weaken your relationship. It will hurt the trust that you have tried to build and weaken your children’s resolve. Instead, teach them how to take responsibility for their choices. Help them reflect on what has happened and why.
We owe it to our children to prepare them for the peer pressure they will face. It will not only help them, but help our family relationships as well.
Have your children felt the pressure of their peers?
How do you handle good and bad choices your children make?
Do you ever have a hard time enforcing consequences?
You may or may not be aware but last week was Child Passenger Safety Week- a program to remind us all of the importance of properly installed and sized car seats. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has also partnered with the creators of Chuggington to further spread the message of safety for children in and around cars.
The Chuggington website, designed for kids aged 2 to 7, has many interactive features including cartoon like characters, videos, pages to color and other activities to help teach kids about this critical safety topic. Remember that motor vehicle collisions continue to be the leading cause of death in children. Anything that helps to increase safety and awareness will ultimately benefit us all.
Among the various activities, participants may ‘take the safety pledge’ to remind them they are committed to their own safety. And now that I have taken the pledge, I can proudly display my downloaded safety badge and certificate.
One last thought…it’s never too late to check the installation and sizing of your child’s car seat. For more information and resources please visit NHTSA’s car seat information site
Among the most common injuries to young people is a sprain to the ankle joint, which happens when the ligaments stabilizing the joint are stretched too far. A sprained ankle may result in swelling, bruising or tenderness over the affected ligament — which causes pain and limits the function of the joint. The immediate treatment for an ankle injury is to rest it, elevate it and apply ice to it for 20 to 30 minutes three or four times a day. You can also give anti-inflammatory pain medications such as ibuprofen to your child, and put a wrap or brace on the ankle to reduce swelling and speed up recovery.
These measures usually allow the sprain to heal on its own, but if after a few days, the pain is uncontrollable or your child still has difficulty putting weight on her foot, have her examined by a doctor. A fracture of the bones in the ankle generally causes an immediate throbbing pain and an inability to put pressure on the foot — along with bruising, swelling or tenderness. It can also cause deformity of the foot. If there is severe persistent pain, a misshapen appearance to the joint or a total inability to bear weight on the foot, take your child straight to the doctor or the emergency room.
Habits are behavioral patterns that we repeat over and over again. Unfortunately, we’re often not aware of the specific behavior we are repeating. This goes for our kids as well. Four of the most common habits children develop are the following:
- nail biting
- thumb sucking
- hair twirling
- nose picking
As a parent, it is your responsibility to help teach your children good habits that are healthy when they are young. This helps them turn good choices into a way of life. We all remember the old adage “do what I say, not what I do”. Well, we all know that doesn’t work with kids. They need to see that you are doing what you are asking them to do. Be sure you are demonstrating good dental habits to your kids first and foremost.
Let’s talk about good dental hygiene habits for kids. Now that school is back in session and summer has come to an end, children are getting back into more structured daily routines. This is a great time to get your child started on a daily schedule of brushing and flossing their teeth. If their routine has been relaxed over the summer, it’s time for more consistency. Brushing at least twice a day and flossing once a day is very important for healthy teeth. Encourage your kids to be responsible when it comes to brushing and flossing the older they get.
Another important habit to form is to get them on a routine cleaning schedule at your dentist every six months as recommended. This will help them understand the importance of caring for their teeth at a young age.
There are so many things to do at the end of the day but don’t let brushing and flossing your kid’s teeth fall through the cracks!
I took a leave of absence from work at the beginning of this year to spend more time with my son, then 8 years old. Work had been very stressful for a long time, with long hours and lots of overseas travel and the associated jet lag – which made me as mentally absent upon my return home as I had been physically absent during my trip.
One evening, when I was thinking about applying for leave, I asked my son about the idea during our bedtime cuddles. “So, sweetie, what would you think if, maybe, mommy didn’t work for a while….would you like that?” I said. His response, after a moment of consideration, surprised me. “No, I wouldn’t like that,” he said. Hmmph! What gratitude! Why was I even thinking of this??…But then, with a sly grin, he burst out with, “I would LOVE THAT!!!!!” That response – including his cute, sneaky delivery – made a real impact on me.
Despite my desire to be with him, I also wanted to use the time off for other purposes – and knew I would need other stimulation. Through my work over the previous few years implementing diabetes education programs, I had developed an interest in helping to improve the health of communities and was seriously considering going back to school to do a Masters degree in Public Health. During the spring I sought input from various colleagues and friends and talked it over with my husband – and I decided to apply.
During summer break I took my son to Chicago for a week of fun, sightseeing and mother-son bonding. But it was also a chance for me to connect with some colleagues located there, who I worked with on the diabetes program – one of whom acted as a reference for my graduate school application. Over dinner at the Rainforest Café (have to keep the kids engaged!), we talked about my potential renewed academic career, especially as my friend was an experienced healthcare professional. Well, what is the saying about little ears???
I found out on the drive back to our hotel that in all my planning for school, I had neglected to mention anything of the idea to my son. I hadn’t realized. How could that have been the case? Why didn’t it occur to me to involve him…at least to confer with him as I had when deciding whether to apply for leave from work? Well, I suppose I didn’t think he’d really care, or really “get” it. Much of the academic work would take place during the day while he was at school, and the program offered the option to go part-time, which I was strongly considering. At any rate, I realized I hadn’t told him – and I paid for that…
In the absence of a prepared and controlled delivery of the information, his imagination had taken control. His reaction in the car essentially went like this (imagine the panicked/frenetic tone of an eight-year-old boy):
“You’re going back to school??? Why? Who said? I don’t want you to go back to school. Have you talked to Dad about this? Isn’t this something the family should decide? What if Nelson and Fiona don’t want you to go? [Note: Nelson and Fiona are our DOGS!]
“No you can’t go back to school. You’ll never be around. You’ll be gone all the time. I’ll never see you. I’ll be stuck with Dad! [Sorry honey!] You took time off from work to spend with ME!”
Nothing I said had any impact. He was inconsolable. And he was determined. It was a short drive back to the hotel, and when we arrived he was off like a shot, the card-key to our room in his hand (it had become a little family ritual that when we stayed in hotels, Elliott got to carry one of the room keys and be the one to open the door). When I got to our room and knocked on the door, he wouldn’t let me in directly. He had the door on the security latch so it opened only a little and, before he would let me in, he insisted that I had to pinkie-swear that I wouldn’t go back to school! Well I started to lay down the law, but he was quite upset, even a little hysterical, so in the end I did pinkie-swear…oh boy!
When we got back home a couple of days later, we sat down as a family and talked about the situation. I told him I was going to school – I had received my acceptance by then – but that spending time with him was still a top priority, so I would do what I could to manage my schedule, and we would see how it went. He was eventually fine with the situation, especially once he knew more about what my going back to school meant (i.e. I wouldn’t be moving to a dorm like our college-babysitter!). But it was a good lesson for me. Kids are people all their own. It’s not possible to know what’s going on in their heads and how they might view new developments in the family….so it’s important to communicate with them early when changes might be happening. It also gave me some insight into how much he had been affected by my frequent and protracted business trips. It gave me additional reassurance that taking time off to be with him was the right thing to do, despite whatever issues it might create down the road for my career.
So, fast forward a couple of months and I’m now in classes – writing research papers and studying for tests – and things are generally working out fine at home. Plus I’m getting lots of material for future posts on health and safety! But more on that later…