The frustrating thing is that regardless of where your kid goes to school – maybe it’s at a really challenging school or the world’s greatest private school, whatever the situation is – it is inevitable that your teen is going to be faced with negative peer pressure. Meaning someone trying to get them to do something that is not good for them, that could be destructive, and that would lead them down the wrong path.
So as a parent, how do you help your kid deal with those sorts of decisions in the moment? And the key is this. You have to see yourself as a coach, not as a player. Meaning, think about what an athletic coach does. They prepare the athlete before the game by drilling them, training, asking questions. Let’s practice. Let’s rehearse. Let’s go through scenarios you might inevitably find yourself in.
During the game, they cheer, they encourage, these sorts of things. After the game, they say, let’s look at what went well here and let’s look at what didn’t go well that could be improved. But what the coach never does is step on the court. And this is a way that you could teach your kid how to make those important, critical decisions in the moment.
Meaning, let them make as many decisions as humanly possible assuming that the risk is relatively low. Sometimes as parents, because we love our kids, we step on that court. We rush the field. We grab the ball and we start running. We go into a place where we have no business being.
Now I understand we do that because we love the kid. We don’t want to see him injured or hurt or whatever. But when you do that, you rob them of an opportunity to mature. And it’s that maturity that leads them to where they can make that critical decision without you.
So give them as many safe, low-risk opportunities as possible to make those decisions and then review it with them. Why did you make that decision? What was the good of that decision? What was the bad of that decision? What would you do differently?
Use sensational media to your advantage. So let’s Miley Cyrus, hypothetically, does something stupid. You’ve got two options here. You could say, I can’t believe she did that. Or, this is a great opportunity as a parent to take the pressure off your kids, instead of why did you do this, why did you wear that to school, and now use this situation as a hypothetical situation to teach.
Did you see online such and such did this crazy thing. Focus on questions now. What did you think of that? What would you say if a friend of yours did that? Is that even a big deal? Aren’t people overreacting? Or is that something really, really dangerous and stupid?
When these sorts of things inevitably happen in our culture, you can’t shelter your kid from it. They’re going to know, particularly if you have a teen. Use that as an opportunity to teach your kid when they don’t feel like you’re coming down on them. But, huh, look at this car accident. What can we learn from it?