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Preparing for Peer Pressure

Your child is on the brink of adolescence. Before long, he'll begin to separate from you. He'll appear less willing to communicate with you and more eager to turn to his peers for acceptance and ideas.

Now, while your child is still receptive to your thoughts, take the opportunity to equip him to resist the onslaught of peer pressure so common to early teens. Here's how:

Cement family connections. Experienced middle school teachers say that kids with secure family ties resist peer pressure most confidently. Emphasize your bonds by spending time with your preteen doing things she likes to do. Give her lots of affirmation and affection.

Discuss the stress of peer pressure. Kids enjoy hearing stories about their parents as kids. Talk about a time when you felt swayed by peers. What did you do? Are you pleased with how you handled the situation? Do you wish you handled it differently? Let your kids know that you understand that it's difficult to stand up to peers.

Clarify your values. Verbalize your beliefs and their scriptural basis. Cite practical examples of how to live out these principles. Make sure you hit on the issues your child will face, such as smoking, drugs, alcohol, shoplifting, boy/girl relationships, lying, and cheating.

Roleplay potential predicaments. Teach your child to recognize peer pressure. When he feels pressured, encourage him to pause and consider his options. Practice phrases applicable to a variety of sticky situations, such as, "No thanks. I don't smoke. I want to stay healthy to play sports," or, "No thanks. I don't want to 'go out' with anyone right now. Let's be friends instead." Teach your child to speak confidently and make eye contact, thereby communicating a firm refusal.

Offer praise. When your child acts courageously and stands up to her peers, praise her.

Encourage smart choices. Standing up to peer pressure is tough for adolescents. Grant your child grace when he makes mistakes. Exercise wisdom in allowing him to pursue his quest for independence while always providing adequate supervision so the temptations he faces are not more than he can bear.

Proverbs on Peer Pressure

God's Word in your child's heart has the potential to influence your child's choices. Memorize these proverbs together as reminders to resist peer pressure:

Proverbs 1:10, 15 says, "My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them. If they say, 'Come along with us; let's lie in wait for someone's blood ? do not set foot on their paths; for their feet rush into sin."

Proverbs 16:29-30 says, "A violent man entices his neighbor and leads him down a path that is not good. He who winks with his eye is plotting perversity; he who purses his lips is bent on evil."

Proverbs 18:24 says, "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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