HELP FOR PARENTS WITH STRONG-WILLED, OUT-OF-CONTROL CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD

Re: Negative Peer Influence

Mark:

Thanks for being there. I have a problem I need to act fast on. Over weekend my 15 (almost 16) daughter was caught by police at a party gone bad. They found her on the street and held her until we picked her up in the police car - she was not charged. The house was trashed according to the police officier. We also found out that she was at a another party on Friday night and was given a ride home from a senior - she has been told we do not want her in car with kids. She has become a very believable liar. She is very vague with story and sticks to main points. I asked her again, to let me know what happened on Saturday and she repeated same story and asked for phone back - that she should not be grounded based on being at the wrong place at the wrong time. She and friends were picking up someone and had to go to door to get them, because there phone went dead - both of them. Anyways, at that moment the police came and everyone took off. She and a couple of the boys were held, but her girlfriend, who walked away to talk on the phone with boyfriend got in the car with someone else and took off. This is the same girl's sister that bought her tickets for her to go to ALice in WOnderland, which is an underground party scene which allows you to use your imagination while on drugs. At this place, the girl's boyfriend overdosed on acid and was taken to the emergency room. We take our daughter away on most weekends to avoid the party scene. She has repeatedly told us to find her a boading school she hates being with us. It could be away to get away with saving face with her friends. The parents of her friends do not want to be involved or know what is going on - so they are of no help. We found out late last night from a neighbor's son that she was at parties Friday and Saturday. On saturday, she did smell of some sort of alcohol. We have all the phones and told her she lost the phone for 3 days, but it needs to be more. She is in way over her head and not one of her "friends" is any good. We have cut all communications with her "friends" - but when I checked the texts on her phone - it was almost like a merit badge that she was with cops. I know they love drama, but how stupid. We think it might be better to move and start over - we have been told that it never works, but I do not know how to get her away. We in the mean time think we should tell her she can only see her friends at our house - I do not want them here either, but don't know what else to do. She had other friends that seem like they would be a better crowd, but does not see them - almost like it would be a downgrade to be with them. I think our daughter wants to be good, but gets caught up in the drama. When we get her away, she seems happy again and is a joy to be around. She has a great sense of humor. When she is home and by her friends, she is so angry and everything makes her mad that we do or say. We have three children 19,15, and 13. She is in the middle and the boys are on either side. She is very disrespectful at times, usually when her friends are with her. Where in the past, we have bent the rules and allow her yet another chance, this time we are being strong and not bending. We give her postive reenforcement and always try to ask questions to show we are interested, but get little response. We are following the program, but seems like we have to step it up.

B.

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Hi B,

The effects of peer influence are remarkably strong. Adolescents' social anxiety (i.e., their fears about others not liking them) is a major factor affecting their vulnerability to peer influence. Those high in social anxiety are especially likely to be influenced by peers, even if the peers are not highly popular/liked.

Many interventions try to change adolescents' aggressive and risk behavior using rational arguments, persuasive information and "fear-appeals" that emphasize the negative consequences that follow from such behavior. But a more effective route involves changing not adolescents' own attitudes but their perceptions of the attitudes of their peers.

You lead them to think, "This behavior does not fit with my group, or with the group to which I want to belong."

So what can you do? Relocating will not change the source of the problem (i.e., the way your daughter is influenced by peers). She will be "influenced" no matter where you go. It's not a question of whether or not she will be influenced; rather it is a question of what group will influence her. There are as many negative peers in Milwaukee as there are in Texas.

Thus, exposing her to a better group of people (e.g., church group, YWCA, Big Sister programs, various school programs) may be a better alternative to explore.

Mark

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