Teaching Teens to “Say No”

By Christy Posted March 23, 2012 under Talking to Your Teen

Last week, Misty wrote about a recent study by Temple University on the risk-seeking behaviors of teens. The study found that teens are more likely to partake in risky behavior when they are with friends than when they are alone. These findings validate what lots of parents have felt about the influence of friends and peer pressure on teens.

Most teens want to make good choices, but find it tough to “say no” to their friends. It’s up to parents and educators to arm teens with methods for saying no to drug and medicine abuse. It’s also important that teens feel comfortable with saying no before they’re put in a peer-pressed situation.

An important part of educating teens about drug and medicine abuse is to talk to them about the influence their friends have on them. Open the conversation by telling teens that it can be difficult to say no to their friends. Make sure to provide teens with appropriate ways to not join friends in risky behavior.

The N.I.C.E. method from 4parents.gov encourages teens to say no to drugs and medicine abuse in a nice but firm way.

  • N — Say “No.” Not “Maybe” or “Later”
  • I — Follow with an “I” statement: “I don’t do drugs” or “I don’t want to”
  • C — “Change.” If pressure continues, change the topic or the location.
  • E — “Exit.” If these things don’t help, your teen needs an “Exit” plan. Come up with a code phrase that your teen can text or say to you on the phone that you both understand to mean come pick him or her up now.

Another great parenting approach for how to have these conversations comes from the National Crime Prevention Council. They suggest inviting teens to act out scenarios in which one person tries to pressure another to use drugs or abuse medicine. You should help teens come up with two or three ways to handle different situations and talk about which one works best and why.

These are just two of the many methods you can use to talk with teens about how to avoid abusing medicine. Preparing teens with a variety of methods makes it easier for them to stand up to peers and “just say no.” How do you teach your teen to say no to drugs and medicine abuse? Join the conversation on our Facebook page!

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