Peer InfluenceTeen withdrawal from family is natural. As this is an emotional time for most teens, they learn to trust and rely on their peers rather than their families. With all of the new friendship possibilities, your teen will be exposed to peer pressure and need guidance to help make good decisions.
Positive Peer PressureWhen your teen meets their one true friend, it can be positively life-changing for them. Your shy child can blossom and gain self-confidence with these friends. Your extroverted child will love the social aspects of having many friends. Often, teens help each other make better choices. In their new peer groups, they may learn about different types of food and want to try new things. To fit in, they may want to look like their peer and help each other find their fashion. Friends have the same taste in social media and can share the good ideas they find. Overall, peers can positively influence and help them build self-esteem and confidence. Positive relationships help with a sense of overall well-being and personal development.
Negative Peer pressure.For some kids, finding the right friends is often challenging; your teen has an innate desire to be liked and valued by his peers. He can become susceptible to negative peer influences during this time. Your teen could become a bully or be bullied by others as they try to establish where they fit into this world. Breaking the rules is a part of stretching boundaries, and friends may encourage poor decision-making. Drug use and alcohol exposure are likely to occur. Fear of isolation will drive your teen to go along with others even if they know better. Toxic peers seek these moments to sneak into your teen’s life and cause problems.
My Son Doesn’t Have Any FriendsThere are many factors for why your teen doesn’t have friends. Treading this delicate line can be difficult. Through proactive discussions, you might be able to determine why. Answer these questions:
- Is your teen self-isolating?
- Do they choose to be alone?
- Are they interacting through gaming and social media?
Self-IsolationIf being alone doesn't suit your teen’s personality, and you find him feeling depressed or anxious. It might be the time to reach out to a medical professional or therapist to ensure your teen is mentally healthy.
Drug and Alcohol UseSpending time alone in his room can be perfectly normal for your teen. Be aware he may be hiding a newly developed habit. Although, you should respect your teen's privacy if possible. However, sometimes you may see changes in your son that don’t add up. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to protect your teen from himself. So if you see signs of drug or alcohol use in your teen’s room, you may need to educate yourself on what is happening in your teems life.
ADHD/NeurodivergentTeens with neurodivergent brains, ADHD, or ADD frequently have a difficult time making and keeping friends. They often miss -social cues from other people and have difficulty reading facial expressions. Their friends may feel your teen isn’t paying attention to them because his brain jumps from one place to another. As well, neurodivergent people tend to need more individual time to recoup and recover because the world is loud for them.
What can I do as a parent?Difficulty determining when to step in or when to give space is a struggle for many parents. Here are a few tips to help guide you through this teenage phase:
- Establish boundaries - Be sure to set clear and focused expectations for your teen
- Be consistent with how you want them to behave at and away from home
- Give your teen an escape route - Teens don’t necessarily know how to say no to their peers without losing face. Present a variety of ways they can get out of a situation. For example, let them blame you. “Sorry, my parents won’t let me.” or “I have to help out at home.”
- Encourage “School” activities - Keep your child busy with sports or clubs. Finding friends with the same interest will be easier.
- Guide don’t control - Give options and suggestions. The more you try to control your teen, the more likely they will feel the need to express their independence. If you guide your teen and give him choices, he will better navigate the world around him.
- Listen without judgment- When your teen feels like you are judging him or his friends, he will likely clam up. Instead, listen with an empathic ear with no judgment. Be sure to tell your teen you only want to hear what they have to say, and you won’t judge.