October 10th, 2018
ACPeds Parent Talk

Keeping parents up to date on the latest news in child and teen health
Peer Pressure: Do you know your teen's closest friends?
It's a common perception that teens are often negative influences to one another; but teen friends can be positive influences, too. Research shows that friendships provide stability during times of stress or transition; and teens without friends tend to be more lonely and unhappy and have lower levels of academic achievement and lower self-esteem. Older teens without friends are more apt to drop out of school and get involved in delinquent activities.
Though friendship is important to teens and should be encouraged by parents, parents need to know who their teens' friends are and who they commonly spend time with if they want to avoid the negative impact teen friends can have on each other. While teens that surround themselves with high achieving peers are more likely to succeed themselves, teens who surround themselves with peers who participate in high-risk activities such as sexting and drinking are more likely to participate in those activities as well.
Not only should parents know who their teens' friends are, they should also communicate with their teens openly and often about their teens' friendships and any changes that occur in their peer relationships. Friendships offer teens opportunities to use interpersonal skills and through friendships they will practice important skills like cooperation and conflict resolution which can prepare teens for success in settings like school or the workforce.
This week, carve out 5 minutes to think about who your child's closest friends are and ask yourself (and the child's other parent if possible) the following questions:
  • Do you know the names of your child's closest friends?
  • Do you know how often your child spends time with them?
  • Do you trust your child's friends?
  • Are they welcomed in your home?

If your answers to these questions are less than positive, or you didn't know enough about your child's friends to answer the questions, it may be a sign that you need to spend more time observing and interacting with the friends your child has chosen to be part of his or her life .

That way you can exercise your influence in the life of your children to help them find, attract and keep positive peer influences.
Teens will not always know how to interact with others or how they should respond in sticky situations. It's important for teens to know that friends can be good and bad in a person’s life. Ultimately, parents can and should teach teens how to surround themselves with good friends so that instances of peer pressure are more likely to influence them in positive ways.

For more information

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