Is a good sense of humour enough to ward off the threat of peer pressure? Child psychologist Kimberley O’Brien, thinks so:
A child psychologist from Sydney’s Quirky Kid Clinic said people should not trivialise peer pressure by saying it happens to everyone.
“We shouldn’t say it’s normal and it’s fine because it’s not,” Kimberley O’Brien said.
Ms O’Brien said parents need to encourage their children to choose friends they are comfortable with.
“It’s important to teach kids to be assertive. If parents model that behaviour and speak up in the community if they feel something is not right then children learn to do the same.”
The Quirky Kid Clinic advises teenagers to make a quick exit if they are feeling uncomfortable in a situation. They teach young people how to use humour to defuse a potentially risky situation.
“They can just laugh and say I’m not into this and leave,” Ms O’Brien said.
“If they are feeling under pressure, we encourage kids to trust their early warning signs and gut feelings and speak up and ask for help.”
Ashley Long and her friends had been drinking alcohol when the helium party trick turned deadly. The inebriating effects of alcohol can make it increasingly difficult to avoid being pushed into risky behaviour.
“[Teenagers] are much more easily influenced if they have been drinking, even physically if they are stumbling or can’t move properly,” Ms O’Brien said.
“They may have lost their phone or friends so it is more difficult to seek help.”