Dealing with Bullying is a very difficult challenge for any family. It can leave so many scars and leave the people involved feeling helpless. So I thought I would share with you a case study of how I helped one client overcome the bullies.
Fifteen-year-old Amy was being bullied at school. She was extremely distressed and her parents were concerned about her, she had begun to skip school, had become very insular and her schoolwork was suffering. Amy was referred to me by a friend of a friend as a last resort, a plea from desperate parents. Read more
There is no doubt about it but peers are more important than ever to our young people. Studies show that only 4.9 % of a child’s time is spent with an adult, the rest is spent with their friends either virtually or hanging out. In fact, most teens will text their friends before they even get out of bed and often their friends are the first and last person they speak with on any given day. Peers are important to this generation, more so then ever before and in most cases teenagers choose their friends well and have positive experiences with them. However, there will be times when their friends are exerting pressure on them to do something they do not want to do.
So how can you support your child to do only what they want to do, not what their friends want them to do?
It is mainly about you teaching your child two things; how to say no and what is important to them. When a child has the confidence to say no and understands why they are saying no, then peer pressure becomes an easier thing to deal with.
So how do you encourage this in your child?
It is about highlighting things for them in your everyday conversations. For example, let’s say your child comes home angry from school one day and when you ask what is wrong, they tell you how their friend has been spreading rumours about them. Listen intently and then ask why it makes them so angry – their answer will be the key to a value. They may say that they trusted them or that they are telling lies. From this you would know that trust and honesty are important to your child. By having these everyday conversations you can help your child figure out what is important to them. It is easier to do this when your child is experiencing extreme emotions such as anger or happiness. Signposting for your children what their values are will support them to understand what is important to them. Next time they are trying to make a decision about something, you can remind them about saying how trust and honesty were really important to them and ask how these values fit into this decision. You will be helping your child learn how to make value-based decisions.
Another thing you can do is talk your child through some situations they may comes across. Let’s say your child wants to go to a party and everyone there will be much older; the conversation may go like this.
“So you are going to a party with children much older than you, that means they may be doing things and might put some pressure on you too. What would you do if say they offered you some alcohol?”
“And what if they said you needed to drink it or go home?”
“What could you say or do to not drink the alcohol and still be friends?”
Talking through situations like this with them will prepare them for what might come, while also supporting them to start thinking through what they might do and come up with some solutions.
If a child feels they can have open and honest conversations with you, then they are more likely to speak things out with you first.
Helping your child learn to say No will also really support them. If they are struggling with a decision, ask them what is important to them here? Ask them how they can make a decisions and still feel like they are honouring themselves? When they are doing something and it is obvious they do not want to, ask them how they could say no without upsetting anyone.
Helping your child learn to honour themselves is the most important thing you can do and it is something that can happen every day in the interactions you have with them. Stay open and your child will come to you for support and above all, never judge them, just ask questions to understand their motives more and you will be supporting them to understand who they are and make value-based decisions rather than peer-based decisions.
If not you should be because if you are not someone else is and if you need any help please get a pack of our Teen Conversation Cards they may just open the door for you.
Self-Esteem of Youth; a Major Factor of Drug Use
How Teens Feel about Themselves Marks Potential Drug Abuse
I recently read an article stating that most drug use was linked to self esteem. It states that adolescents who report feelings of low self-image and lack of self-love are highly likely to engage in drug use. Parents need to make positive self-esteem a priority.
While on one hand I agree, I feel like I need to add and expand. My 7 years in the police had me come into contact with many different type of drug users and I feel it is much more complicated than just self-esteem.
Reasons for drug use fall into many catergories and I think only one of them is self esteem….
Drug addiction is, without a shadow of a doubt, down to how someone feels about themselves and their circumstances. Environment, expectations, intelligence and self-esteem all have a massive impact here. Drug addiction is comparatively rare and, in most cases, not what parents are dealing with.
What parents should be more aware of is recreational drug use, which is far more common and in my opinion most of the time has nothing to do with self-esteem. Yes, there may be a bit of Dutch courage and peer pressure involved here, but someone who decides to use drugs in a recreational way generally chooses to do so, rather than being driven by a need or addiction.
They may do it simply because they like it – that simple.
They may do it because they like the feeling of being out of control ( maybe it is the only time they feel free).
They may do it to relieve stress.
They may do it simply because they want to.
We are dealing with a generation that are so much more clued up on drugs and their associated dangers than their parents. They are not fools; many have seen their parents drunk and they know the figures and all the facts on Cannabis verses Alcohol, for example. They know that, whether we like it or not, to them cannabis is a more sensible choice. This has been the case for over 10 years and in their minds, with evidence to back them up, this is unlikely to change.
So as parents, what can we do?
Firstly, get the knowledge and don’t over react to recreational drug use. Get the knowledge, get clued up and don’t believe the hype. In a recent survey people were asked to rate drugs in the order of how dangerous they thought they were. The majority of people put the least dangerous as the most lethal and the most lethal as the least dangerous! This just goes to show that we are not informed, we believe all the hype and the reality is so different. Our value base is having us make decisions about the dangers and not the actual facts of the situation. Surely, this cannot be right….
Secondly, think about what you can do with your teen to replace the need for drugs. If they are someone who likes a thrill or is relieving pressure, then what could you add to that to get the same high? Risk-taking activity must have an outlet and extreme sports will often replace the need.
I think what we need to do as parents is be open enough that our children will talk to us about drug use, because only then can we work with them to stop it. While we remain closed and all drug use is bad, we cut off a vital line of communication.
The earlier you can get armed with the information and talk to your child about drugs, the better.
Is cannabis more dangerous than alcohol?
Do people who take cannabis go onto harder drugs?
How else can people get the high, apart from drugs?
What else can teens do to relieve pressure?
These are all important and vital conversation that we are failing to have, so I challenge you to be brave and start a conversation
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