“Hey, dude, I’m a teenager. Whaddya expect from me? Kids my age tend to be a little raunchy at times. We like to hang with our buds and make fun of people. And video games . . . man, I live for video games! Pops says they make me angry — some of the games are a little violent, you know? But pops doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He says that I should fill my head with positive stuff and that I should start treating people with respect. He says what goes around comes around. He says stuff like you are who you associate with, and you get from the world what you put into the world. What the heck is he talking about, dude?”

Kids are smart, aren’t they? A teen who says these things to me is searching for the right path. He is obviously being swayed by peer pressure. We all went through that stage in our own development from a teenager into a young adult and then into adulthood. His comments about his dad and the fact that he remembers what his dad is suggesting to him are great signs. It tells us that he is listening. He is absorbing what his dad is trying to teach him. The boy’s instincts are good. We all, I believe, have the instinct to be good and we have the instinct to be bad. We will go one way or the other. Someone will teach us one behavior or the other. If parents don’t set a good example, if they do not teach their children how to be good citizens, then the kids turn to their peers. Sometimes they turn to kids who are a little older, kids who have learned how to manipulate and take advantage of a kid who is searching. That’s big trouble for the kid and for all of society.

This particular kid that we are focusing on today is asking, “Which way should I go?” Among the suggestions that I would have for him is that he begin to watch for silent messages both within himself and in the words and deeds of his friends. At his age his friends are everything to him. Peer pressure is strong. I would ask him to notice how he feels when he is around his friends. Do his friends make him feel good, happy, motivated, and challenged to accomplish positive things? Or do his friends make him feel uncomfortable, dirty, afraid, bored? How do other people react when they see him and his friends coming? Are they welcoming or are they repelled?

This kid is connected. He may be connected with the wrong crowd, but he isn’t sure. So I’d try to put him in a nonthreatening position where he has the tools to “read” the behavior of his friends. Then I’d let him know that if he wanted to talk to me about it, I’d be there for him. Even if he did not come to me, within a few days I would suggest Outfluence principles and behaviors that he could use to attract the type of people who would be positive forces in his life.

I believe that if we provide our children with information and options, if we teach them about life, if we listen to them when they talk to us, they will make the correct choices.

Author's Bio: 

Outfluence, LLC is a publishing and teaching organization dedicated to improving communication and performance in business and personal relationships. Additional information can be acquired by visiting www.outfluence.com.