Teachers, Parents Need to Know About Teen Peer Pressure News2america

When teens need to get out of uncomfortable situations, the X-Plan might come in handy.

The plan is simple: Teens text the letter “X” to a parent or an older sibling when they need help. The recipient then calls the teen and says to leave immediately and that the recipient will pick up the teen.

The parent or older sibling doesn’t ask any questions and the teen has an excuse to leave the party or other risky situation while avoiding social ridicule.

One Twitter user shared a similar plan with U.S. News.

“Everything is so hyper-competitive now, whether it’s trying to get into the best colleges, whether it’s trying to make teams or clubs,” says Jason Ness, principal of Niles West High School in Skokie, Illinois. Being recognized by their peers as excelling in a particular area offers teens a lot of social currency.

That’s compounded by the rise in social media, says Ness, who’s also a licensed clinical and school psychologist. “It’s always out there – you are always seeing what others are doing or accomplishing, and you don’t even know whether it’s real or not.”

Often, no one has talked with teens about peer pressure or given them the skills they need to think through these situations, he says. His educators work on developing social emotional skills, self-confidence, self-identity and the abilities to see opposing perspectives and anticipate difficulties that may arise in social situations, among others.

The teenage brain isn’t fully developed, he says. Students need to learn how to slow down, think through situations and consider the risks and benefits. Knowing they have a support system to contact in tricky situations can help teens build self-confidence, he says.

A support system at school and at home can help high schoolers deal with peer pressure, Twitter users told U.S. News.

Teachers can use contemporary literature and relatable stories, among other tools, to help students envision how they would respond in similar situations, Ness says.

Teaching empathy through community service is a good strategy, he says. That could be done at school through tutoring, a recycling club or a beautification project. A lot of students at his school volunteer at an assisted living facility outside of school, among other places.

The effects of peer pressure are varied since everyone handles it differently, Ness says. But when it’s intense and ongoing at a young age, students may not have the skills to cope and that can lead to a variety of mental health issues – depression, anxiety and more.

Adults need to acknowledge that peer pressure exists, Ness says.

“For parents, I think the No. 1 skill is to ask questions and don’t assume that everything’s OK,” he says. Check in and provide support, he says.

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