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Helping Teens Say No

Teach your kids how to handle peer pressure with our seven strategies for resisting temptation, bad influences, and unsafe choices.
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It's Not as Easy as "Just Say No"

All day, every day, we hope that our teens will resist when they find themselves in a dicey situation -- whether it involves drugs or booze or looking at iffy Web sites. We cross our fingers that their first reaction will be a hearty N-O.

If we've ever tried to picture what that just-say-no situation looks like, we've probably conjured up some hokey scenario -- an unwashed thug offering a joint to our teen, who bravely pushes it away. "But peer pressure is seldom as obvious as someone shoving a beer into your child's hand," says Sharon Scott, author How to Say No and Keep Your Friends (Human Resource Development Press). "And the pressure isn't always coming from the so-called bad kids. It's also from your child's friends, who mean the world to him."

That's why just saying no doesn't work, and why programs like Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.), taught to 36 million kids a year, are relatively ineffective. (Researchers at the University of Kentucky and Virginia Commonwealth University found that students who receive D.A.R.E. training are just as likely to smoke, drink, and take drugs as students who haven't received it.)