Developmental Asset #35: Resistance Skills

Resistance Skills are related to #28: Integrity and #31: Restraint. They are the skills your teenagers need to stay strong in the face of peer pressure and calm in a storm of hormones. Peer pressure is subtle but terrible threat to teens and young adults, who are trying new things to discover who they are while simultaneously placing more importance on social connections than ever before. Here are a few things to keep in mind to help remind your teens and preteens to keep themselves safe.


  1. Under #28: Integrity I mention that “integrity is more important than conformity.” Teach your kids the importance of thinking for themselves. Remind them that they are independent human beings with their own thoughts and choices. Teach them that friendships are important, but that they should never sacrifice their personal choices, ethics, or identity for the sake of belonging to a group, and that friends who pressure them to do things they don’t want to do are not true friends. It may help to share some examples of times you have had to let go of friendships that weren’t right for you.


  1. Give your teenagers healthy rites of passage. Talk to them and make plans to celebrate important life changes, such as finishing a school year, or any of the various “firsts” that occur in adolescence. It is human nature to want to commemorate important events with rituals, and for some teen social groups, rites of passage can involve things like alcohol, hazing, sexual activity, gambling, or violence.


  1. Talk to your teens about anger, frustration, and other negative emotions, and how to respond to them in non-violent ways. Talk about the importance of being assertive, which is distinct from being aggressive or passive. Teach them that walking away is preferable to violence. If your teen struggles with violent impulses, it may help them to have a mentor or guide to coach them through angry moments.


  1. When your teen makes a good decision, such as walking away instead of fighting, letting go of a toxic friendship, or saying no when offered a drink or a cigarette, praise them. Reinforce good decisions by celebrating them.


RECOMMENDED READING: Parenting Preteens with a Purpose: Navigating the Middle Years by Kate Thomsen


Search Institute has identified 40 building blocks of healthy development, known as Developmental Assets, that help adolescents to grow up healthy, caring, and responsible. Visit us here every Wednesday to read about different ways that you, your family, and your community can take action to help equip our young people develop resilience and achieve success in life.