By Danielle Heinrich
As a tween going into middle school, I know there will be a lot of peer pressure that could keep me from my goals. My goals are to be successful in school so that my dreams aren’t limited.
I know there are going to be people who want me to do other stuff with them, like skipping class, drinking alcohol, using drugs and hanging out with boys when I should be in class studying hard and working toward my goals. As a tween, I still don’t know what my career will look like, but I know I want to have a great job that I will look forward to going to every morning.
I encourage you to talk with your tweens and teens about the peer pressure they will face this school year. Here are five ways they can avoid the stuff that will hurt them.
- Walk away.
When your teen is at a party or get-together with friends, if they see drugs or alcohol, tell them to just leave the party. That way they aren’t included in what they shouldn’t be doing, because they could get in serious trouble.
- Say “no” and repeat if they keep pushing.
When someone is trying to push your teen into drinking alcohol or using drugs, tell them to say no over and over until they stop asking the question, and they will leave your teen alone, so they can fulfill their dreams.
- Make an excuse.
When your child makes an excuse at home, tell them to do the same thing at parties when someone is trying to make them use drugs or alcohol, because they can do so many other things in their life.
- Encourage your child to make other friends.
Sometimes, we just don’t hang out with the right people. If their friend is asking them if they want some weed, tell your child to find better friends.
- Ignore it.
If your teen is asked to use alcohol or drugs, tell them to just ignore the person talking and pretend they didn’t hear them.
I haven’t had to use these strategies yet, but I know I will, and my sister knows they work. She knows her dreams of going to culinary school are worth more than drugs and alcohol, so make sure you talk to your teen about the effects peer pressure can have on their dreams.
Danielle Heinrich, 11, is a sixth grader at Maricopa Wells Middle School.
This column appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.