Teaching Kids How to Say “NO” to Friends

We’ve all seen the commercials where the teenage girl or boy issues a talk-to-the-hand signal to the drug dealers lurking outside the school gates. We’ve applauded as the child actor demands the keys of another child actor who intends to drive drunk. And, as parents, we’ve prayed that our own children will mimic this behavior if and when the situation calls for it.

Yet, some statistics show that commercials, anti-drinking and driving campaigns, and even programs such as DARE have little effect on how kids will behave when faced with making tough decisions. Why? Because kids rarely have to face the unsavory drug dealer in the commercial.

Saying No to Friends

Who kids actually face is one of their own friends offering them a drink, a toke, a line, or a smoke. Kids don’t often make the association between the shady character on the television, in the magazine ad, or on the billboard, and their well-known childhood friend with whom they’ve shared cookies and milk as well as toys and textbooks. And, although somewhere in the back of their minds are the nagging voices of every adult they know and trust saying “don’t do it,” the pressure they feel to follow the crowd, no matter how wrong they know the action is, dulls those voices to an inaudible level.

This is not to say that useful programs such as DARE should be scrapped. On the contrary, kids need these programs to give them the basic building blocks of resistance. DARE helps teach kids what’s wrong with drugs. But it’s still up to parents, teachers, and other adults to help kids learn strategies that will help them resist once they are equipped with the facts.

Read about more ways to teach kids when to say “when” to their friends >>

Coping with Holiday Stress

During the holiday season, stress and pressure are as inevitable as tacky storefront displays and repetitive music on the radio. But that doesn’t mean that any of this has to ruin one of the best times of the year for you and your friends and family.

The following seven steps can help you respond to seasonal stress in a healthy and productive way:

1. Manage Expectations – About that perfect holiday gathering you’re planning – you know, the one where everyone shows up on time, loves the food, agrees on every topic of conversation, and helps clean up before taking a group photo and leaving before they overstay their welcome? Yeah, well, that’s what we here in the reality-based world refer to as a “delusion.”

Read the other six steps to stress-free holidays >>

SUWS Students Inspired by Quiet Peace, Silent Power of Wilderness

In today’s high-speed, information-overloaded society, it often seems as though there’s nothing that networked, always-on-the-go American teens can’t get, see, or do. But when Jerrie Dee Harvey leads a group of struggling adolescents into the Idaho desert, she introduces them to a new experience that has the powerful potential to change their lives: Silence.

A wilderness therapist with SUWS Adolescent and Youth wilderness programs in Shoshone, Idaho, Harvey helps troubled teens regain control over their lives and re-focus their efforts toward achieving their greatest potentials. And though she is quick to credit the experience of the SUWS staff – and the innovations inherent in the renowned program – for helping the students get themselves back on track, she is just as certain that the environment in which the work is accomplished is an essential component of SUWS’ success rate.

“The wilderness is a freeing environment,” Harvey said. “It strips the kids of distractions, so they can find their center and can redefine who they are and what they believe.”

Why Wilderness? Continue reading to learn more about the powerful effects of the wilderness on troubled teens >>