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Posted on: June 1, 2018

Developmental Asset of the Month - June 2018

15 June Positive Peer Influence

Tips to Help You Implement Asset #15: Positive Peer Influence

Encourage your child to keep responsible friendships:

  • Talk with your child about her or his friends. Ask questions to find out what they’re like.
  • Get to know your child’s friends and their families. Point out what you like about them.
  • Don’t jump to conclusions based on what friends look like.
  • Avoid criticizing friendships that seem negative to you, but be honest when you’re concerned about a relationship.
  • Make your child’s friends welcome in your home. Invite them over.
  • Think about your own friends. Do they model responsible behavior?
  • Let your child know when you think he or she has a good friend. 

Youth are more likely to grow up healthy when their best friends model responsible behavior. The best way to encourage children to choose positive, healthy relationships is to model them ourselves. Take out an old yearbook or photo album. Look at pictures of the friends you had as a teenager. Think about the friends who acted in ways you admired. Most people can remember at least one person who always sensed when things weren’t going well and called, sent a note, or showed up to find out what was wrong. Often, these are the people who turned out to be lifelong friends.

How about people who weren’t such true friends? Was there someone who spread rumors about you, or talked behind your back? Did you ever have a friend who tried to get you to do things you didn’t want to do? The pain of these kinds of experiences often teaches young people a lot about how they want to be treated by others. 

No one forced you to like people who were good to you, or feel angry at people who hurt you. You had to make your own choices about who your friends were. In the same way, we can’t control who our children choose as friends.They are exploring and learning about their world, themselves, and the people around them. Sometimes they’re attracted to people we have concerns about. Other times they may say the “good” kids are boring. However, if we model responsible relationships, talk to our children about how others act, and are involved in their lives, gradually they’ll see that friends who act, talk, and think in positive ways will bring out the best in them.

Worth a Cheer: We often think of “peer pressure” only as a negative influence. But researchers at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research found that in a study of 1,500 adolescents, peer pressure was usually more positive than negative. Friends were more likely to support each other’s efforts to do well than to encourage risky behaviors.

More Help for Parents: Making and Keeping Friends: Ready-to-Use Lessons, Stories, and Activities for Building Relationships by John J. Schmidt gives young people the skills and knowledge needed to form meaningful, healthy, lasting relationships.(Published by Free Spirit.)

About the Asset-a-Month Program: This article was provided courtesy of Project Cornerstone’s Asset-a-Month program. The goals of the Silicon Valley Asset-a-Month program are to help align adults throughout our diverse community in their efforts to promote positive youth development by fostering developmental assets. Visit the Developmental-Asset-a-Month Calendar for more tips. For more information about the Asset-a-Month program, contact Project Cornerstone at (408) 351-6482 or info@projectcornerstone.org.

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