Peer pressure is without a doubt the most difficult thing that your teen will face outside of the books as they enter high school. The days are long past where the worst thing you had to worry about was smoking tobacco. These days, you have to worry about PCP, LSD, Heroine, and any other assorted drugs out there.

In addition to this, peer pressure has upped the ante on the sexual front as well. Teens are still getting pregnant more and more here in 2009, and the trend is not likely to change anytime soon.

With that said, how can you prepare your teen for the peer pressure that inevitably is on the way?

How can parents help?

The number one tool that you have in your arsenal is your line of communication with your teen. If your teen is afraid to talk with you about peer pressure, then you have zero chance at having much impact. That is why it is so important to make sure your teen is willing to talk early.

Begin talking with your teen at the earliest age possible about peer pressure.

This will make it old hat when the real peer pressure starts during the teen years.

Educate your teen about the things that they might face before they are standing in front of their peers. Talk about the various drugs and show them the horrors that drugs can create. Take your teen to a drug rehab center or prison and let them see the damage first hand. Show them pictures, and teach them to truly know the facts. Explain that with today’s drugs, just one time can mean getting hooked.

If you have a teen, sex must be an open subject in your home. If you try to use the denial form of parenting, you will eventually regret it. Sex is far too common in high school now for the traditional avoid the subject styles of parenting. You must talk with them and let them know the consequences in an open and non threatening manner. Teens will listen even when you think they are not. Get the lines of communication open and keep them open.

Finally, you need to make a deal with your teen.

Explain to them that you are there for them. If they ever find themselves in a dangerous situation, or even in a situation they are ashamed of, they can call on you to come and get them. This should be done with the understanding that you will not punish them if they give you the truth. Trust me, the fact that you are in the know is far more effective than any punishment. If you use this rule, it has been proven to be effective. Abuse of this rule by your teen can mean adjustments have to be made, but most teens will use the outlet in the way intended.

Peer pressure is a very powerful and real part of our teens lives.

We must make sure that our teens understand that we are here to help, and that we understand more than they know. If you need to, admit to some mistakes you made as a teen to open those lines of communication. Nothing is more effective than your teen seeing you as one of them.

Dorthe Flauer, Executive Director, SAFFRON Centre Ltd.