Jun 07
​Spring is in the air: Peer Pressure in Middle School

As summer approaches, it is easy to forget that our young students have a lot on their mind. While many children are excited about the upcoming break, they are also worried about their learning, their friends and the changes that the next year will bring.

With the arrival of the warm air and long hours of sunshine, middle school students often struggle in making sense of their world, especially as their world is quickly changing, and they are sometimes exposed to risky behaviors and peer pressure.

​As a team at RTA, we support students with making good decisions and learning from their mistakes. This support also includes working with students and families in building understanding and resiliency, while fostering confidence and promoting safety. 

This can be confusing for some students. We need to work together as a community; we need to introduce dialogue where students feel safe and can ask questions. As parents, you are your child's expert, and we invite your support.

​Peer Pressure excerpt from My Health Alberta Network https://myhealth.alberta.ca/health/Pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=abl0972&lang=en-ca

What makes kids vulnerable to peer pressure?

The one thing that seems to make all adolescents vulnerable to peer pressure is simply being in this age range. They're just doing what kids their age (middle school to high school) do. Research suggests that peer pressure can be especially difficult to resist because, at this stage of their lives, lots of kids:

  • Want to fit in and be like the kids they admire.
  • Want to do what other kids are doing, and have what other kids have.
  • Don't want to feel awkward or uncomfortable.
  • Are afraid of being rejected or made fun of.
  • Don't know how to get out of a pressure situation.
  • Aren't sure what they really want.

What can parents do to help?

As normal as it is for adolescents to go along with their peers, it can be just as normal for parents to take their children's challenging behaviour personally. Just try to remember that kids aren't so much rejecting you as they are trying to establish their own identity.

Whether your child is the most popular kid in class or is someone who has few friends, peer pressure can push him or her to do unhealthy things.

Adolescents still need a parent's help to make good decisions—even if they don't act like it.

Help them become the people you hope they can be by helping them learn to:

  • Say "no." It can be hard to resist the pressure to engage in risky behaviour when other kids are doing it too. Before your kids find themselves in one of these situations, role-play with them. Help your kids figure out how to respond when someone says to them, "Come on and have a drink with us. It's way more fun than studying. Or are you too chicken?" or "I really like you a lot. Let's text each other some pictures of ourselves naked. It's called sexting. Everybody's doing it."
  • Develop good self-esteem. Take time to praise your child and celebrate his or her achievements. Children who feel good about themselves are more able to resist negative peer pressure and make better choices.
  • Choose their friends wisely. This means online friends too. Lots of people (peers and adults) try to pressure kids to make bad choices. But if your children have friends with good values and good self-esteem, they can help your kids make sense of new technology, stay away from risky behaviour, and resist unwanted peer pressure.
  • Create special code words. These are special words your children can use when they want your help but don't want their friends to know they're asking you for it. For example, if they don't feel comfortable at a party, your children can call or text you with an agreed-upon phrase like, "Mom, I have a really bad earache. Can you come get me?"
  • Use you as an excuse. Let your kids know that if they ever face peer pressure they don't know how to resist, they can always refuse by blaming you: "My parents will ground me for a month if I do that."
 ​​And you can help yourself by learning to:
  • Stay calm. If your children want to do something you don't agree with, try not to overreact. Dying their hair purple or wearing sloppy clothes can seem like your children are rebelling. Compare this kind of behaviour with how your kids are doing in school, who their friends are, and how maturely they usually behave. If they're doing well in these other areas, try not to get upset, and resist the urge to judge or lecture them.
  • Stay informed. Pay attention to the substances that kids this age are using, the way they dress, and how they're using the latest cell phones, social media, and other technologies. The more you know, the better you can protect your kids and help them learn to make good decisions.
  • ​Stay in your kids' lives. Even though they may not act like it, most children this age still listen to their parents. Keep talking to them—about their interests, accomplishments, and friends; about the music they listen to; and about the things that bother them.

Calgary Youthlink | Conversation Starter Kits: Facts and Tips for Families

https://youthlinkcalgary.com/conversations/

I would also encourage families to explore the amazing videos on the Calgary Youthlink Website:
  • Say No
  • Vaping
  • Gang Recruitment
  • Special Photo
  • Pass it on

As always, we want to work together will families in supporting students' learning with fostering a safe and secure learning environment. We are more than happy to meet with families if they have any questions or suggestions in making RTA the best school in Calgary.

Kind regards,

Brenda Lewis​


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