July 15, 2013 —

As teens begin to transition from middle to high school, they begin to seek out their own identities and acceptance from peers. This is a crucial developmental period in which parents should be highly aware of their teen’s activities and the friends their choosing – in an effort to easily recognize changes in their teen’s friends and behaviors.

I helped to raise two of my nephews and I can attest to the overwhelming amount of peer pressure that teens are faced with to “fit in” socially. I have also seen how much of an influence a teen’s friends can have over their behavior and actions. It can be easy for teens to buckle under peer pressure and go along with whatever the crowd is doing, including participating in risky behaviors such as bullying or medicine abuse.

Teens need to understand that they can make an impactful difference in the lives of others by going out of their way to say something positive instead of negative and by setting respectful examples of how to treat others in a social setting. Teens can also be a positive role model for younger family members who look up to them.

Below are some methods parents can use to help teens learn how to become a positive role model for others:

  • Help teens find their identity through positive behaviors such as art, music or sports rather than through risky behaviors such as substance abuse or bullying.
  • Remind your teen to treat others the way they would like to be treated. Encourage them to think about whether they would find a behavior or rumor offensive- if they think they would, it’s likely their peer would as well.
  • Talk through different scenarios with your teen in which one of their peers is pressuring them or others to engage in risky behaviors. Help them devise a plan of action to ensure they make healthy decisions for themselves. 
  • Empower your teen to walk away from situations that make them uncomfortable and provide them with tips they can use to help others do the same.
  • Encourage your teen to be respectful of their peers on social networks and through text messages. Explain to teens that once they publish a Facebook update or send a text message, it can spread quickly among friends and even throughout an entire school.

As parents and caregivers, it is our job to protect our children and make sure we’re providing the guidance they need to make the right decisions. How do your encourage your teen to be a positive role model among their peers and younger family members? Please share your tips with us below!