As long as they’re in school together, you can’t regulate their interactions. Of course, you can try to keep them away from bad influences after school and on the weekends. But the reality is that a teenager wants to make his or her own decision when it comes to who they call a friend.
Unfortunately, bad peer groups can influence teens to make choices and decisions that they never would have even imagined before. The desire for a teenager to fit in and to be part of a group is almost overwhelming. Before it’s too late, try to get your child involved in an activity that has a positive influence on his or her life. Studies show that kids who are involved in sports or other activities, such as music and theater, tend to steer clear of gangs and other peer groups that are into drugs, drinking, sex and perhaps even violence.
If you have a religious affiliation, church or synagogue youth groups are an excellent place for your child to find a group to fit into. Teens want to be validated. If they get involved with a bad peer group that requires unacceptable behavior to receive this validation, they’ll often set aside their morals and ideals to be a part of the group.
Peer pressure is the number one reason that teenagers and younger kids start to smoke. Get to know the kids that your teen hangs out with. Invite them to your house. If something doesn’t seem right, talk to your child about it. And make sure that you validate your teen. Encouragement and praise can go a long way toward keeping your teenager safe from the influences of a bad peer group!