Nipping Peer Pressure in the Bud

Once again I found myself talking to the principal yesterday. During our last conversation she said she should put me on speed dial. Great. I’ve added to my Silly Bandz collection, as that’s the new deal, one oddly shaped elastic band for each trip to the principal, even if it’s “not his fault.” Avoiding getting someone else in trouble can be just as important as not causing it the first place, am I right?

I was pleased to actually get to hear first hand from my son why I had this note to call the principal. He’s usually either forgotten or is so upset he refuses to discuss the matter. Perfectly understandable in a six year-old, and I’m actually quite thrilled he does not hang on to past hurts, therefore does not feel “bullied” or resentment towards anyone when he is targeted.

This was a new one: he’d thrown his yogurt against a rock in the garden, and the janitor happened to be there to witness the mess. Dad packed the lunches so hadn’t realized he no longer likes that particular yogurt, but that’s not an excuse. Jacob (names have been changed to protect the not so innocent) had told him to throw it, Donovan explained.  “It wasn’t my fault.  If I hadn’t thrown it, then Jacob was going to,” were his exact words. Well, that makes no sense at all. I fell back on the old standby: “If Jacob told you to jump off a bridge would you?” How nice that my kids are young enough to have escaped that expression, and found it funny, yet relevant.  He also confirmed that no, he wouldn’t hit someone if told to.

The punishment is both kids have to help the janitor clean up after lunch, appropriate enough. But I also took this opportunity to explain peer pressure to both my kids, since I had them both trapped in the car, after all.  Today it’s throwing yogurt, tomorrow it’s cutting class, and in 12 years it could be letting someone use your computer to stream their roommate’s private activities on the internet.  I constantly remind my kids I want them to be the one that says NO, in the school’s vocabulary the “upstander” who does not just stand by when someone is teased.

That goes for peer pressure too, I explained.  Some day someone is going to encourage you to smoke a cigarette or skip school to go play.  I chose not to venture into the really awful or criminal things some kids are involved in these days.  I did emphasize that they’ll really try hard to get you to join them, and you need to learn NOW how to say no.

If they wouldn’t do it at home, if they wouldn’t do it on their own, then nobody should be able to talk them into it. Let’s not let a small container of strawberry yogurt be a gateway act.

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  1. October 22, 2010
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