Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
 Or you will also be like him. Proverbs 26:4

Peer pressure is nothing new and neither is it’s potential to be either negative or positive in nature.

Many times kids understand the risk involved in following the crowd, but react rather than respond. It’s the parents’ responsibility to help their teenagers develop the ability to respond to peer pressure – to think rather than have a knee jerk, emotional reaction.

Loving discipline is the answer. This is in contrast to the “strict disciplinarian,” the parent who demands certain behavior without building a relationship. The teenager raised by a “strict disciplinarian” is more prone to following the crowd without thinking. Parents who establish a loving relationship and clear boundaries with adequate consequences are more likely to raise kids who are able to think for themselves.

It may be time to land the Helicopter. The parent who hovers and doesn’t allow the child or teenager to make decisions and succeed or fail is also setting the child up for following the lead of destructive peer pressure. This child has no practice making decisions.

The Take-Away?

Parents, love your teenager enough to establish boundaries and consequences. Don’t hover. Help them anticipate potentially negative pressure and establish a plan to handle it.

The teenagers who have developed independent thinking skills are the peers who exert positive peer pressure, encouraging others to do what is right.