Help your child handle peer pressure with A+ results

Peer pressure can affect your child’s life in more ways than you can ever imagine. Pressure to fit in may have a positive effect if your child’s peers encourage healthy behavior.  But it’s the kind of peer pressure that has a negative influence that we worry about, leading your child to make bad judgment calls, or to participate in risky activities.

No matter what, you need to help your children make their own decisions and not just follow the crowd for the sake of following the crowd. Your children need to learn to do what’s right – right for them and their healthy growth, maturity, and safety.

Fitting In

It doesn’t matter what age your child is, it’s human nature to want to be liked. Everyone wants and needs friends. As kids grow and the hormones start taking up residence, attitudes change. What interested them last month holds no fascination for them today. Priorities change at the drop of a hat. They start moving away from the family and start taking steps into their own world, a world centering on their friends. It’s scary for the child to go through, but it’s even scarier for the parent who watches it happen, and feels helpless.

Facing Fear

Peer pressure is probably a parent’s worst fear. You send them off to school every day knowing that drugs and alcohol are easy to get, weapons can be brought from home, and hate crimes and bullying may be happening.  The school grounds may not be a safe haven for your child. That is why it is up to the parents to talk to their children and take an active role when it comes to shaping their attitudes about what goes on around them.  Conversations with your children will help ease your child’s fears, and your fears, too.

Rock Solid Support

If your child knows you are rock solid in your support, he or she will more likely grow up with a strong sense of self.  They will have a better chance of resisting the peer pressures that could lead them into trouble when they have a base built in the knowledge that you believe in them.  If you are available for your child, he or she will know where to turn to when there are questions and problems.  Be consistent, be firm, be fair, but most of all, be there.

Internal Strength

One way a child can resist peer pressure is to know in their own mind what they want.  Children need to know what they believe in, what they value. A child with a solid understanding of their belief system and values will think twice before stepping out of their comfort zone to do something they know is wrong, something they feel uncomfortable about. Self-confident children believe in themselves and won’t need the approval of another person, even a friend, to feel like they belong.

Outside Interests

Help your child gain confidence, self-worth, and a belief in their very being, and you will be encouraging your child in other ways, as well. These children are self-directed and tend to have activities in their lives that interest them. They don’t need the approval of other classmates because they are confident about what they are doing with their lives.  They can pursue interests simply because they want to, regardless of whether or not the activity helps them fit in.

You won’t always be able to make the world a perfect place for your child.  But, you can help your child live in an imperfect world by giving your child the tools to become a stronger, more self-assured person.  If your child feels comfortable in his or her own skin, has a strong support system, and knows what he or she wants and believes, no amount of peer pressure will sway your child from the right path.  This will ensure your child’s success in life and it will also help you rest a little easier during these topsy-turvy years.

by jacqueline Itson


Making It Matter at GTI 2014

Keeping Connected

IMG_0872 (1)We stepped foot on the Oxford College campus on Friday, June 6 to begin what would become the best two weeks of the year: the 2014 Georgia Teen Institute. Week 1 of GTI was scheduled to begin the following Monday, and a lot of preparation was necessary to make sure we were ready for participants to arrive. As soon as the moving truck backed in to unload at the dorms, we started to piece together Command Central and the many components of camp that made us feel at home. The days leading up to the start of the program are often quiet, but a closer look at the calm scene reveals hard work, frantic preparation and tireless dedication to the cause. We kicked off with Staff Development Weekend 2 (a continuation from part 1 held in March), a time for staff to bond, learn their way around campus, practice the…

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Cyberbullying on the rise among Preteens

The major increase of preteens exposed to the internet through computers and cellular phones has lead to a rise of cyberbullies and their online victims, creating a digital face for the traditional bullying that occurs within the school premises, suggested a recent study conducted by the University of British Columbia involving 17,000 children aged 8-12.

Cyberbullying among kids is a form of humiliation, intimidation and threat by an aggressive child directed toward another child or preteen through the use of the internet in computers and mobile cyberbullyingfbphones. With more children joining popular social networking sites like Facebook, bullying has been a lot easier to do for many, which has been proven by numerous studies to be detrimental to the psychological development of the victim and likewise linked to depression, school phobia, loss of self-esteem, lowered achievement and worst-case scenario of suicide.

The study from the university revealed that about 25-30% of the youth admitted participating on acts of cyberbullying and being victimized by it, which significantly showed a bigger difference with the 19% who confirmed that they have participated and experienced schoolyard bullying. This showed that children differentiate cyberbullying with that of an actual bullying, indicating an emerging popularity of bullying through the internet.

Various states supplemented additional laws to correspond to the emergence of cyber bullying within the public school system, creating anti-bullying campaigns such as the “STOMP Out Bullying” and “It Gets Better.” There are also many internet websites and resources that address cyberbullying issues, such as “” Many schools are also organizing anti-bullying events on campus to address the issue. The State of Georgia enacted a cyberbullying law (Bill Number SB 250), part of which states that cyberbullying “relates to prohibited acts of bullying at public schools…by use of electronic data or software access through a computer network or electronic technology of a local school system.”

Teachers and parents need to be wary if a child is exhibiting any symptoms of cyberbullying. Open communication is vital to assess the severity of a child’s situation. Certain measures must be observed to avoid the harmful effects of cyberbullying─ educating a child in advance about cyberbullies, reporting the abuse committed by a bully, and blocking the individual from the child’s account. Although education and community awareness is important, it doesn’t replace a parent’s need for vigilance in monitoring their child’s Online activity. It is essential that parents take the initiative to consult a pediatrician for needed psychological support.

PTA Assembly Ideas

Tired of the same old assemblies at your school? Chances are the kids are too. Regardless of age, school assemblies should be interesting. It doesn’t matter whether the assembly is to encourage school spirit or to offer instruction. Often, one member or a team of the school’s PTA coordinates with student body and school administration to develop assemblies. Knowing what works and what doesn’t is the first step in developing school assemblies that not only deliver the information or topic under discussion in an interactive way, but those that keep the students interested and engaged.

Developing a theme

School assemblies are called for a number of reasons. Informational assemblies talk about dress or uniform expectations, codes of conduct or safety strategies. Assemblies may also be held to school kidsdevelop and encourage school spirit, while yet others are held to impart education or in-depth information to students. Regardless of the type of assembly, PTA members should identify a theme or topic before planning even begins. This ensures that the assembly will stay on track and remain focused on one idea or concept, rather than several, which often end up dragging on too long and risk becoming boring.

Cater the theme and method of delivery for elementary, middle school and high school levels. In addition, PTA members will find that their messages and assemblies are more successful when delivered in a unique, entertaining, yet effective manner. Studies have shown that one of the most popular methods for imparting such information these days is in skills demonstrations. For example, BMX stunt shows are a perennial favorite at schools across the country, and can be used as a vehicle for bike safety, character development, and discussions about bullying.

The main goal of a school assembly is to capture the student’s attention. Performers and guests such as BMX riders, martial artists, and other active, entertaining, and skill-based talents and activities provide an excellent venue for instructing students of all ages about serious topics.

Assembly Ideas

Strike a balance between entertainment and education. Some of the most popular PTA assembly ideas include:

  • Stunt shows (martial artists, BMX stunts, skateboarding stunts, gymnastics, and basketball skills)
  • Assemblies that requires interaction between the speaker/s and students, such as requiring the “use” of a student as a volunteer
  • Magic shows
  • Musicians
  • Robotics
  • Human board games
  • Science shows and experiments

As you can see, a wide variety of ideas is available to PTAs when designing a school assembly. Know your students, pay attention to their interests, and your school assembly is sure to be memorable.

Teaching Students to Make Good Decisions Can Reduce Drug Abuse

School districts are discovering that one of the most effective ways to reduce drug and alcohol use among middle-school students is to teach them the life skills to make good decisions.

In the past, school drug and alcohol awareness programs focused on teaching children to “Just Say No.” But medical studies that explored the effectiveness of several types of middle-school drug awareness programs, mostly involving sixth- and seventh-graders, found that the best programs encouraged students to stand up to peer pressure and provided role-playing techniques.

Programs that taught children about the physical and mental effects of drugs gave students more knowledge about drugs in general, but it didn’t stop them from trying drugs, which was the ultimate goal of the programs. Even programs that focused on building self-esteem and confidence in students didn’t prevent drug abuse in students later on.

Teaching students drug education through life skills is a way to help children protect themselves and their friends when they find themselves in many types of risky situations, including those that involve drugs. It’s a holistic approach that helps them build their own sets of values, skills and knowledge. Life skills programs need to provide them with the opportunity to practice these skills and, at the same time, reinforce and promote all types of positive behaviors.

One of the best ways to teach drug prevention programs is as part of a comprehensive health education program that incorporates a life skills-based education. This requires the program to be taught in age-appropriate sequences and over several years during school. Students need to feel as though they are an important part of the programming and, let’s face it, they are. They need to be actively involved in the program and allowed to reflect on what they’re learning. groupkidswalkngonstreet

Reflecting on what you’re learning is key to any drug prevention program for young people. If they’re going to remain drug-free or not try drugs at all, they need to learn how to develop the skills and values to learn to cope in healthy ways with their problems as they grow older.

Students need to learn how to:

  • Build self-esteem
  • Set realistic goals
  • Cope with anxiety and other emotional struggles
  • Resist peer pressure
  • Learn to communicate effectively
  • Make better decisions
  • Manage conflict in respectful yet assertive ways
  • Lastly, respond when they’re in social situations where they may be offered drugs.