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Social Competencies Teens Need (part 3)

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More on youth development and the 40 Developmental Assets needed by 12 to 18 year olds, as described by the Search Institute.

4) Resistance Skills: where teens are strong enough to resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations.
Be aware that many teens participate in unhealthy rites of passage involving things like hazing, gambling, sexual activity and/or substance use. Talk with your children about how their peers mark life changes. Then, together with your children, make some positive plans of your own.

Peer pressure can be a powerful motivator, and the pull gets stronger as your child matures. Talk about the importance of thinking for oneself. Encourage your teens to believe in the value of their own good choices.

Reinforce nonviolent resistance skills such as walking away, being assertive (neither passive nor overly aggressive), and finding someone such as a trained peer mediator to help.

Teach your teens that “friends” who pressure them to do things they know they shouldn’t do, are not true friends at all. Talk about times when you had to let go of a friendship that wasn’t helpful to you.

Affirm your teenagers when they make good choices. They need to hear what they’re doing right.

5) Peaceful Conflict Resolution | Young person seeks to resolve conflict nonviolently.
Forgive people of all ages when they make mistakes. Teach young people how to apologize, explain, negotiate, and resolve conflicts peacefully when relationships run into bumps.

If your children hit each other (or kick, bite, and pull each other’s hair), don’t just chalk it up to “kids being kids.” Stop the action, explain why it isn’t right to hurt someone else, and mediate an apology.

Teach your children about nonviolent resistance by reading about heroes like Martin Luther King Jr., Ghandi and other nonviolent leaders.

Know when to tell your children that you are sorry. Keep it honest and sincere, avoiding the temptation to soothe your own conscience by offering gifts or other indulgences unrelated to the situation.

Allow family members to leave discussions when they are too angry or upset to resolve conflicts peacefully and reasonably. Agree on a time to try again.

Author

Gary L. Hopkins, MD, DrPH, MPH is currently an associate research professor at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan where he is also associate director of the Institute for Prevention of Addictions, Director of the Center for Prevention Research and Director of the Center for Media Impact Research.