Help your child resist peer pressure

Help your child stay safe and out of trouble by saying "no" to peer pressure.

This video offers advice for parents on how to teach their kids to recognize and protect themselves from negative peer pressure. As kids get older, they may be pressured to take part in activities they don’t really want to do, such as drinking, smoking, cheating, or cutting class. Parents can help by talking to their children about recognizing uncomfortable feelings when they’re under pressure and how to say no to those who pressure them. (See our article 6 ways to help your child deal with peer pressure.) This video is most appropriate for parents of children in fourth grade, fifth grade, and middle school.

Video transcript

Jerry: “Mark, is that you? Mark Gifford?”
Mark: “Yeah?”
Jerry: “It’s me, Jerry! Jerry McCall? Pinewood Elementary School. 1987?”
Mark: “Oh. Wow. Jerry? Oh my gosh, you look really… different.”
Jerry: “You look great, too, man.”
Mark: “Um, wow. What have you been up to all these years, Jerry?”
Jerry: “You know, living the dream! Enjoying life, right?”
Mark: “Right.”
Jerry: “Hey, you guys want to come and hang out and party for a bit? I got two more where this came from.”
Mark: “Sounds really… fun, Jerry, but we have to meet some friends at two o’clock.”
Jerry: “Okay. Your loss. It’s been great to catch up, man.”
Mark: “All right, take care Jerry!”
Charlie: “Who was that, Dad?”
Mark: “Believe it or not, Charlie, Jerry was the most popular kid at my elementary school.”
Charlie: “Are you serious?”
Mark: “Yeah. He was always so… cool. Everyone wanted to do what he was doing. Which was often not very healthy behavior.”
Jerry: (in flashback) “Here you go, Gifford. Have some!”
Mark: “At first, I was kind of nervous. I wanted Jerry to like me. But he did things that I knew weren’t good for me. So I didn’t know what to do. You know what I mean?”
Charlie: “Yeah, I think so.”
Mark: “So you’ve had to deal with this kind of thing, too, huh?” (to camera) “Yep, I know what you’re thinking: this is my chance to talk to Charlie about peer pressure. And maybe you’re thinking it won’t work, that kids this age don’t listen to their parents. But studies show that talking to your kids about it really does help them deal with it. So here goes. I’m going to try.” (to Charlie) “I learned a couple of tricks back then for dealing with the pressure. I can tell you about them if you want. Okay, the first step is to recognize when you’re being pressured.”
School mate: (in Charlie’s flashback) “Here you go, Gifford, make your mark.”
Mark: “There’s a few ways you can tell. Your heart might be beating quickly. Maybe your mouth is dry and your hands are shaking. You just feel like something isn’t right. Take a deep breath and try to identify what’s going on. Second, think about the result of the bad behavior. If you think it through, you’ll probably realize it’s not worth it. And step three, respond confidently to the people pressuring you. Say no or just walk away. Be firm and sure of yourself. A lot of times, that’ll earn the respect of your friends. You know, it’s pretty cool to have your own values and stick to them.”
Charlie: “Okay, Dad. But it’s hard to think of things to say when it’s happening.”
Mark: “Yeah, I know. So… let’s practice.”
Charlie: “Um, sure.”
Mark: “Good, so what should I pressure you to do?”
Charlie: “Um, well, you could ask me to spray some graffiti.”
Mark: “Okay. Hey, Charlie, it’s your turn to tag the wall!”
Charlie: “Uh, I don’t know.”
Mark: “Remember, be firm. And you can suggest something else to do, too.”
Charlie: “No thanks. I’m going to play football with some other kids at the park. You want to come?”
Mark: “Good!”
Charlie: “Dad, you told Jerry that we had to meet up with some friends at two o’clock. Who are we meeting?”
Mark: “We’ll find some friends to meet. It just seemed like it’d be best not to go down that path.”

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