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MEZONE " STAND TALL, PUT YOUR SHOULDERS BACK, MAKE EYE CONTACT, BE FIRM AND SAY NO.THEN TURN AROUND AND WALK AWAY. YOU WILL BE SETTING A GREAT EXAMPLE FOR OTHERS AND WILL PAVE THE WAY FOR THEM TO SAY NO TOO The next time you go to the movies, to school or to a party, take a quick look around you. What kind of people do you see? What clothes are they wearing? What does their hair look like? What body language are they using? I bet you most of them will look pretty much the same — wearing the same fashions, doing their hair the same, even wearing the same colours. In fact, if you get close enough to hear what they're saying, they'd probably use the same lingo and would even sound the same. These are your peers. Peers are the group of people who you socialise with, learn from, have fun with and sometimes even fight with. This is also the group of people who you identify the most with because you're all going through the same kind of stuff. You're at the same stage in your lives and have so mich in common. Chances are you spend more time with some of these people than with your own family. teenzonemagazine co za MEZONE fe RELYING ONLY ON OUR PEERS TO HELP US MAKE IMPORTANT DECISIONS IN OUR LIVES IS AVERY DANGEROUS THING TO DO. OFTEN TEENS TRYTO PRESSURE OTHERS INTO DOING CRAZY THINGS THAT HAVE REALLY BAD LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES Is As you move into your teenage years, it's perfectly normal to slowly detach yourself from your mom and dad and align more closely with your peers. This is a time when you're discovering your own personality and realising you have a mind of your own. You now sometimes turn to your friends to give you the guidance and advice that you once got from your parents. And that's all fine and dandy — as long as they are guiding you in the right direction. Friends' advice and peer pressure can sometimes help us to navigate through life. Friends give us feedback and advice, they encourage us to try new experiences and push us to be more competitive. But, as in the following tale, their advice and guidance can sometimes have negative effects too. I once knew a very shy girl called Insecurity. Insecurity was very beautiful, but for some reason didn't like herself very much. She was timid, embarrassed, had low selfesteem and just didn't trust herself at all. One day one of her friends, Peer Pressure, came along and asked Insecurity to do something really crazy. Peer Pressure was loud and funny. She was popular and always had lots of friends around her. On this particular day, Peer Pressure asked Insecurity to steal two lipsticks from the cosmetics counter. She promised Insecurity that if she stole the lipsticks everybody would like her and she wouldn't feel so bad about herself anymore. Although Insecurity knew that stealing the lipsticks was wrong, she decided to do it anyway. Unfortunately for her, she was caught in the act and was taken to the store manager's office. On seeing what happened to Insecurity, Peer Pressure got scared and ran away, leaving Insecurity to deal with the consequences all on her own. Once safely around the corner, Peer Pressure couldn't help but laugh hysterically at poor Insecurity. "It was her own stupid fault for believing me in the first place!" Peer Pressure told her friends later. Relying only on our peers to help us make important decisions in our lives is a very dangerous thing to do. Often teens try to pressure others into doing crazy things that have really bad long-term consequences. Some reasons why they do this may be: to feel the thrill of doing something wrong and getting away with it. to have a laugh at somebody else's expense. to make themselves feel better about their negative choices by getting others to make the same choices. As the saying goes: 'Misery loves company.' to minimise their chances of getting into trouble by following the belief that there is safety in numbers. They believe the more people are doing it, the less trouble they'll get into. Like Insecurity in the story above, we almost always know when we are doing something wrong, so why do we let our peers push us into making poor choices? One of the most important things in a teen's life is the need to belong. We need to feel accepted and sometimes will do almost anything to be cool and popular. Teens love to have fun, take risks and get their adrenalin pumping. Just remember there are safe ways to do all of these things. FOR HELP CALL CHILDLINE ON 08000 55 555 OR SADAG (SOUTH AFRICAN DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY GROUP) ON 0800 12 13 14. M EZONE NNOTHING STANDS UP TO NEGATIVE PEER PRESSURE BETTER THAN CONFIDENCE, SECURITY AND SELF-BELIEF. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF ENOUGH TO BE YOUR OWN BEAUTIFUL PERSON! BE YOU-NIQUE! 4). l'ilulloomiummansonselsor5111 .......1111111111111mmmtl=2.111111 0% -1PA Instead of breaking into the abandoned house across the road, you can go for a ride on a rollercoaster or abseil down a mountain. There are safe alternatives. Media such as the internet, TV, books and movies continuously send us messages telling us how cool it is to drink alcohol, smoke, take drugs and act violently. This desensitises us so that when we are faced with the choice to try these things, we think there's nothing wrong with them. ROW TO STAND UP TO PEER PRESSURE Think before you act! Before you make any decision, ask yourself: What can go wrong if I take this path? Weigh up the short-term gain (a bit of fun, a laugh or being cool for five minutes) against the long-term consequences (getting into trouble with your folks, putting your life in danger and getting into trouble with the law). Ask yourself if the five-minute high is really worth the pain in the long run. Avoid people and situations that you aren't comfortable with. Surround yourself with friends who have the same values as you — friends who you know wouldn't force you to do something that could hurt you or someone else in the long run. Also be a good friend and never pressure anybody into doing anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. Be prepared. Think about situations that you may be pressured into and prepare an excuse beforehand. For example: "No thanks. I can't have a puff of that cigarette — I'll have an asthma attack" or "I can't go to the liquor store with you later as I have to buy my cousin a birthday present." You can even practise saying your excuse in front of the mirror so that it sounds real. Agree on an 'escape' phrase with your folks. For example: "Mom, please could you come and fetch me — I have terrible toothache." Tell your folks that if you ever phone them using your escape phrase they should come and fetch you, no questions asked! Say no. Don't be afraid to say no. You don't even need an excuse. If you are brave enough, a simple 'no' is enough. Stand tall, put your shoulders back, make eye contact, be firm and say no. Then turn around and walk away. You will be setting a great example for others and will pave the way for them to say no too. But now let's see how the story between Insecurity and Peer Pressure ended. A week after Insecurity was caught stealing, Peer Pressure tried the same stunt on another friend — Confidence. Confidence was wise enough to think twice before she acted. She was comfortable with herself and really didn't care what Peer Pressure and all of her popular friends thought about her. Peer Pressure was so desperate for the two lipsticks that she stole them herself (along with some mascara and perfume), and was also caught and was arrested. Confidence then realised what Peer Pressure had done to Insecurity and went out of her way to make friends with her. Eventually Insecurity changed her name to Security and is now best friends with Confidence. Peer Pressure got into a huge amount of trouble and now mopes around looking miserable and feeling sorry for herself all day long. So what's the moral of the story? Nothing stands up to negative peer pressure better than confidence, security and self-belief. Believe in yourself enough to be your own beautiful person! Be you-nique! /Ma TRACY-LEIGH KINSEY OF STARCHILD COACHING IS A TEEN LIFE COACH AND SELF-ESTEEM ELEVATOR WHO CONDUCTS WORKSHOPS, TALKS AND ONE-ON-ONE COACHING FOR SCHOOLS, COMMUNITIES AND INDIVIDUALS THROUGHOUTTHE COUNTRY. TRACY CAN BE REACHED This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. OR ON 083 209 0768