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Resisting negative influences

Resisting negative influences

To better understand

As you know, friends carry a lot of influence during the teenage years. And this influence can be positive or negative. Spending time with friends helps your teen learn how to become an adult, but they’re also likely to experiment with inappropriate or unhealthy behaviours together, like vaping or smoking, drinking, doing drugs, delinquency, or violence.

Despite knowing that certain behaviours are inappropriate or dangerous, your teenager may still experiment with them—for several different reasons. These can include: fear of being rejected or judged by others, wanting to feel included, curiosity, a ripple effect, believing the particular behaviour is the norm, wanting to break the rules, feel grown up, feel strong and important, etc.

So, how can you help your teen resist negative influences and avoid bad experiences?

What are teens doing?

68 % of teens feel a high level of social support from their friends.

To better support


  • Pay attention to what your teen is going through: what they like, their goals, etc.
  • Talk to your teen about the things that influence them. Take the next step by mentioning the positive and negative consequences of these influences on their life, health, well-being, and grades.
  • Talk to your teen—and even their friends—about your opinions on different events or messages in the media or TV shows. This will help them to develop the critical-thinking skills they need to better resist negative influences.
  • Talk to your teen about ways to stand up for themselves, in a firm but positive way.


  • Explain the conduct, attitudes and behaviours expected of your teen (courtesy, respect, politeness, non-violence, etc.). Let them know what behaviours are illegal (bullying, violence, vandalism, theft, etc.) and the consequences of breaking the law.
  • Work with the school or police department to reinforce preventive measures (smoking, vaping, violence, delinquency).
    • If you suspect your teen is part of a street gang, talk to them about your concerns. If necessary, contact your local police department.


  • Maintain a bond of trust with your teen.
  • Help your teen to recognize the things that are important to them—what they like and what they want.
  • Give your teen opportunities to be a positive role model for others (babysitting, coaching, organizing activities, etc.).
  • Emphasize the feelings of well-being and pride that come from acting as a positive role model.
  • Help your teen to identify situations where they might need to apply strategies to resist negative influences.
  • Give your teen tools and arguments to get out of situations where they might be negatively influenced, for example, teach them how to say no to vaping or drugs, how to react to bullying, etc.

At home

  • Set clear, fair rules for how to behave at home (curfews, politeness and respect, chores, school attendance, etc.) and follow them.
  • Be clear about your values and expectations at home.

Tips and tricks

  • Recognize the important role that friends play in your teen’s life.
  • Help your teen to recognize good and bad influences.
  • Teach your teen how to resist negative influences.

In brief

Friends have a very strong influence during the teenage years, although parents still hold sway. Which means you have an important role to play. For specific advice on different topics, check out our toolbox!

Resources and practical tools

1. For support:

If you are concerned about a situation, do not hesitate to reach out to a support worker or a healthcare professional:

Community organizations: family centre, youth centre, etc.

Some community organizations offer support programs for parents of teenagers. Call your local organization for information.

School staff members

If you fear for your teen’s or your own safety, call 911 or your local police department.

The police can also be a helpful resource, especially for preventing gang activity, violence, bullying, delinquency, and other offences.

Latest updates : october 2020

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