Healthcare Training Institute - Quality Education since 1979
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In the last section, we discussed six components of relational aggression. These six components are, looks, the gay issue, conceit, exclusion, rumors, and the label ‘slut’.
In this section, we will discuss the five steps in the compromise on conformity technique for parents of excluded adolescents. These five steps are, paying attention to the adolescent’s style, undergarments, facial or body hair, hygiene, and compromising on media.
Joseph, father of Matthew, age 13, stated, "Matty has no friends. He’s always so lonely, and recently a teacher told me that some kids have been calling him a ‘fag’. There just never seems to be an end to the teasing! Isn’t there anything I can do to help Matty fit in?"
I explained to Joseph that many parents are concerned about conformity in their adolescents, and rightfully so. As you have observed, many parents fear that a tendency to give into to group standards and wishes will lead students into risky behavior. However, I have found that if parents can help teach an adolescent how and when conforming is an important social skill, the adolescent may find more peer acceptance while building self confidence.
I introduced Joseph to the Compromise on Conformity technique. I suggested to Joseph that he keep a diary for the next week, in which he could observe certain aspects of Matthew’s behavior and choices.
♦ Step # 1 - Observe Fashion Choices
One issue of style I have found addressed more recently is piercing. I certainly do not advocate that parents endorse the "everyone is doing it" rage and allow, for example, their 12 year old daughter to get a navel piercing. However, with some students, it may be important for parents to keep in mind that an earring is an exciting adventure that can help a student fit in… and is a safer expression of ‘rebellion’ than experimenting with drugs and alcohol.
Discussing the jewelry and body modification issue can be an excellent opportunity for parents to help students develop common sense. If an adolescent really wants a tongue ring to ‘fit in’, a parent might explain the negative, and painful, results of a tongue piercing, and guide the adolescent to a more positive, less permanent choice, such as a new necklace or watch, that will serve the same purpose of ‘fitting in’.
♦ Step # 2 - Pay Attention to Undergarments
♦ Step # 3 - Facial or Body Hair
I stated to Joseph, "Try to pay close attention to where and when Matthew is growing hair. How does it look? If Matthew announces he wants to shave, even if you can’t see a problem, it is probably because he has observed a peer doing it, or at least bragging about it, or he has been teased because of his facial hair. If this is the case, you may want to consider helping Matthew begin shaving, even if you do not feel it is necessary."
♦ Step # 4 - Hygiene
Joseph stated, "It’s true that sometimes, Matty stinks when he leaves for school. But when he’s done with his homework at night, sometimes he’s too tired to shower. And then in the morning there’s not enough time! He needs enough rest, and I don’t want to turn making him shower into a power struggle!" I suggested to Joseph that he work with Matthew to help him devise a shower schedule that works.
Perhaps Matthew would have an easier time showering right before or after dinner than right before bed. I also explained to Joseph that by working with Matthew on hygiene, he would not only help Matthew make a better impression on his peers, but help Matthew learn excellent habits that will help him take care of his body throughout life.
♦ Step # 5 - Compromising on Media
However, it might be advisable to be flexible about at least a few of the most popular entertainment choices so that Matthew automatically has some common ground to discuss with his peers. You might use this as a learning opportunity. Allow Matthew to make several suggestions of popular entertainment in which he wants to participate. Choose one. You might preview the video game, movie, or album, then stay with Matthew when he first plays or watches. Take the opportunity to share your values and opinions, and ask for his.
You might prepare a list of questions or topics you wish to discuss with Matthew concerning violence, sexuality, or the importance of discerning fantasy behavior from what is appropriate in his daily life." As I explained to Joseph, his role as a parent is to help Matthew choose and process media. The operative word, as you know, is compromise.
Think of a parent you are currently seeing regarding relational aggression and their adolescent student. Would the Compromise on Conformity technique help him or her help the student make more appropriate choices, while helping the student maintain a healthy sense of self?
In this section, we have discussed the five steps in the compromise on conformity technique for parents of excluded adolescents. These five steps are, paying attention to the adolescent’s style, undergarments, facial or body hair, hygiene, and compromising on media.
In the next section, we will discuss helping clients understand four aspects of the ‘clique chick’. These four aspects are, what makes the clique chick tick, the clique squeeze, rapid responses, and the bottom line.