Parent College Coach Tip #15: Talk To Your Teens About Peer Pressure

Talk to your teens about peer pressure before they leave for college.

As parents it is our natural instinct to protect our children from danger. During their teenage years, our greatest fear is the peer pressure they face to act recklessly. And in college, we’re afraid they will do something to put their lives in jeopardy because they are impaired by alcohol or other drugs. These peer pressures keep parents up at night and even the most stalwart of heart frightened.

What should you do about peer pressure?

Unfortunately, you can’t keep your kids in a cocoon and protect them from themselves or their friends. And you can’t spend your whole life worrying about what they are doing with they are not with you. You can teach them basic survival skills and instill in them moral values. You can give them every opportunity to take supervised risks so they will be less likely to take the dangerous kind.

When they come to you and ask to do something because “all their friends are doing it”, be a wise parent and don’t reach for the closest parental adage. Explain to them your reasons for concern and reaffirm your love for them. Make sure they aren’t giving in to peer pressure. Have them give you their reasons for wanting to go on a 5-day unsupervised trip to Mexico. After both sides have stated their cases, it is your responsibility as a parent to make the proper decision. Your kids may balk and scream and say they hate you forever. They may storm out of the room and slam the door when you tell them no. But even though you didn’t say it, you know that just because their friends “jump off bridges,” it doesn’t mean they have to follow.

Address these topics

It’s important when you discuss peer pressure you address these topics.

Drug Abuse-Unfortunately, there is pressure in college to experiment with drugs. Don’t use scare tactics because there isn’t a teen alive who believes they will die from using a drug once. Present them with the facts and trust that you have raised them to make the right choices.
“Hooking Up”-College students have adopted this practice in lieu of dating. Inform your teen about the dangers of this random sexual behavior: pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and sexual abuse.
Drinking-Over 50% of college students drink on a regular basis. Never mind that this is illegal for those who are underage; discuss the dangers of alcohol poisoning and reckless behavior associated with drinking.

Prepare them for the worst case scenario

Tell them it’s going to happen. Give them some suggestions on how to handle the situations. Assure them that no matter what happens, you will be there for them. You want them to tell you everything; no matter what decision they choose to make. Let them know they can call you, anytime, day or night, to help with these decisions related to peer pressure.

Author: Suzanne Shaffer

Suzanne Shaffer advises parents and students in the college admissions process and the importance of early college preparation at She is excited to share her knowledge with the readers of Smart College Visit.

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