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Tell your kids that peer pressure isn't always a bad thing.

“If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?”

Ah, the immortal words used by parents everywhere when trying to explain the negative effect of peer pressure on teenagers. At least, that was the phrase used back in my day. When we wore hoops under our dresses and tied our bonnets on with ribbons.

I’m kidding obviously. Because no, I am not quite old enough to actually have lived in the Ye Olden Days. Despite what my kids might think. Although some days, days like today, it really does feel like a lifetime ago since I was a teenager and my dad was saying those words to me.

This isn’t Alison – but we’re sure this is how it went down.

Though today it is my turn to be the one having the talk. The talk about why yes, friends are important and yes, I know we all want to fit in. But sometimes, peer pressure can lead us down a path we really don’t want to go, or know we shouldn’t. So a teenager needs to have some tricks up her sleeve to cope with the pressure. I figure the time has come for my girl to learn some of those tricks. I also figure that while I have her captive in the car with me, as I drive her from school to her swimming session, is going to be the best time to grab her attention.

I’ve done some reading up before having this chat. I looked on the Kids Helpline website, and the excellent ReachOut website.

One thing that hadn’t occurred to me before was that peer pressure isn’t always a bad thing. With the right group of friends, peer pressure can help a teenager find their place in the world, and encourage good habits.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Nissan Pathfinder. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words. 

Like the one she and her friend have decided to form over these agonisingly long (for us parents anyway) summer holidays. A 3-4 km run “first thing in the morning mum!” three times a week. First thing in the morning means something different to a 15 year old on holidays, but still, 8.30am kick off isn’t too bad.

It won’t last…

Then there are the peers she has in her swimming squad, who use their competitive streaks to push each other not just to turn up, but to swim their best each and every time.

So yes, I can acknowledge, now that I think about it, that the words “peer pressure” don’t always have to strike fear into my heart.

Back in my day, I was pretty lucky with my chosen peers. Apart from pressure about wearing the right labels (Country Road anyone?) and competing to see who had the best tan (baby oil worked a treat) or the best grades, there wasn’t a lot of pressure on me to do anything either too bad, or that made me too uncomfortable.

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Of course there was absolutely no pressure placed upon me by my friends to drink alcohol or do drugs (the daughter may well read this post).

But I know that today, the pressures on my kids as teenagers in this modern world are infinitely greater than they ever were for me.

For my son, only just at the start of his teenage journey and as self-confident as the day is long, I don’t worry too much about pressure on him. Well, not yet.

It is a different story for my girl though. Every day there is pressure on her to look and dress a certain way, and not to be over a particular weight. Part of the pressure she places on herself; the endless posting of photos on Instagram of the minutiae of her life means she must constantly look her ‘best’.

I don’t want her to feel pressured about weight.

So I have decided to try and talk to her about how she might withstand some of this pressure.

When her friends tell her not to wear that outfit because it makes her look “bloated”? Maybe respond with humour instead of humiliation. Stick out your stomach as far as it can go, making sure you bend your back as well, and start rubbing your ‘food baby’ proudly.

Another tip or two from the oracle of knowledge: If someone is doing or saying something to make you feel uneasy or hurt, then find a nice place and way to tell them how you feel and ask them to stop.

And if someone is pressuring you for something serious like to have sex or take alcohol – then call me straight away! Oops, I forgot, this is a social media world. So yes, I guess you could just PM me on FB for help. Or snapchat one of your friends, or text your trusted aunty. Any and all are good options.

We’ve arrived at the pool and my window for holding her attention is firmly closing. As she hops out of the car and prances off on her merry way, I can see she is already furiously tapping on the keypad.

Probably telling her friends how she is sick of her mother pressuring her.

Got to love being a parent.

What advice would you give your teenage self?

Some of the most influential teens as named by Time Magazine…

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