“Everybody, no matter what age, is faced with pressure to 'fit in',” said Dr. Scott Siege, Medical Director of BMP-Quabbin Pediatrics. “In our teenage years this pressure can be even stronger because no one wants to feel like an outsider.”
Teens usually spend more time with their peers than they do with their parents. So, it is quite possible that their peers will have an effect on them. Peer pressure manifests itself in numerous ways, from simple things like the clothes we wear to more serious things such as smoking or using drugs.
“Though not all peer pressure is bad, however some of it can have a negative effect on your teenager's choices,” said Dr. Siege offering the following advice. “Keep the lines of communication open and be sure to talk with your children about peer pressure. Point out the challenges that they might face in school or in activities outside of school. Let your teens know that they can come to you about any problems that they face,” said Dr. Siege. “Actively listen to them. If your teens feel comfortable discussing peer pressure issues with you, then you'll be able to help them cope more efficiently and make better decisions.”
“One simple safety-net you can create is a code-word,” said Dr. Siege. “Agree on a word with your teens that they can use to signal a problem. For example, if you child is being pressured to get into a car with someone who has been drinking he/she can call or text home using this word in the message. This signals the need for help, even just to be picked-up from a party. Remember, using the code-word must ensure no disciplinary action from parents. Just be glad your teen called you and is safe,” said Dr. Siege. “For parents, this is that challenging time of trying to find the balance between giving our kids the freedom to make their own choices and enforcing rules to keep them safe.”
BMP-Quabbin Pediatrics is located on the campus of Baystate Mary Lane Hospital in Ware. Open daily, the practice also offers urgent walk-in visits each morning from 7:30 am – 8:30 am, to see children who have developed an illness overnight. For more information or to schedule an appointment call 413-967-2040.