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Peer Pressure:

Reversing Peer Pressure
By Sharon Scott, Licensed Marriage and Family Counselor

Learning to say 'no' to all kinds of negative peer pressure is a modernsurvival skill for teens according to Dallas-based family counselor, SharonScott. She adds, "Peer pressure is not forced, physical pressure, butverbal persuasion. I sometimes call it emotional blackmail! And every
day 87% of teens face some sort of negative peer pressure!" We all want to be liked and sometimes it can be difficult to say 'no' to best friends or a cute guy/girl when they ask us to do something dumb or wrong because we want them to like us. We fear if we turn down their trouble invitation-- whether to cheat, skip, fight, gossip, cut someone out of the group, shoplift, drink, vandalize, etc.--that they might not continue liking us. "In reality, though, they'll probably only stay mad one day--not forever," Ms. Scott adds.

Ms. Scott's teen best-selling book, How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, advises these three steps in order to manage negative peer influence:

  1. CHECK OUT THE SCENE: Notice if there are any clues to trouble such as friends acting sneaky or using peer pressure sentences such as "We won't get caught." or "Chicken?"
  2. MAKE A GOOD DECISION Quickly think about the consequences and listen to your voice inside that knows right from wrong!
  3. ACT TO AVOID TROUBLE Of course, you can say 'no' or leave, but those aren't the most comfortable ways for most teens to handle trouble invitations. So develop other techniques of turning people down without losing their friendship or your dignity. Other strategies could be to change the subject or come up with a better idea. A sense of humor can often be used when turning someone down gently. Flattery is often effective, "You're too smart (or nice) to do that!" Whatever method you select, it's important to get out of the trouble trap in 30 seconds or less otherwise you may get talked into trouble or get in a fight!

Used with permission from author. Copyright 1981, 1997, Sharon Scott. For more information on Ms. Scott's books, counseling, or training workshops, see her website at www.SharonScott.com.

SOURCE: How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, 2nd Edition (teen guide); Peer Pressure Reversal, 2nd Edition (parent/educator book); Too Smart for Trouble (elementary-age book). Publisher HRD Press, 1-800-822-2801.

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