Participant blog: Diamonds Are Made Under Pressure

From time to time we share some of the work of our participants as they go through the Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators online course.  Juan A. from Miami-Dade County Schools wrote an essay for his refusal skills assignment and has graciously given us permission to share it with you.

Diamonds Are Made Under Pressure

Our students are at risk every day, of doing something they might regret down the line, because they were “following the crowd”. Whether it be not doing homework to hang out with friends, dressing in a way that doesn’t resonate with their personality, or even taking drugs. We need to teach our kids from an early age not just to say no, but why they are saying no and the consequences of their actions. When children learn to think for themselves and make their own decisions, this can positively impact them in the future, such as making the right choice when they come across situations that will challenge their morals and their upbringing.

Sometimes our children will be playing with their friends when a situation like this arises. For example, if a student has an older brother or sister, they might be more desensitized to drugs. This might prompt that student to invite their friends to try drugs or cigarettes with them, maybe because they want to see what the big deal is. It is important that students learn to say no, in ways like “No, thank you”, and “I don’t think this is something we should be doing”. We should also teach students that if the person pressuring them persists, they must stand their ground and not allow the other person to force them to make a decision that they are uncomfortable with. If the person still continues, then the child can either change the topic, or just leave.

When students are at a young age, peer pressure is especially strong to resist, because most children just want to fit in and look “cool”. This means that saying no is tough, because children think they will lose their friends. Students need to know that it is ok to not want to do everything that their friends do, which is where our individuality comes from. If they still think that they will lose their friend, then we remind them that a friend who wants them to do something that causes them harm is not really that great a friend.

Great friends are ones who do things that are clearly to help one another, and they respect who you are as a person. If dealing with an older school population, we can also remind them that these are also things that make a great partner. Peers and significant others are always going to influence us, and the way we live our lives. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We are products of the decisions that we make, both from things we’ve done, and things we haven’t done.  For example, if your best friend has a new favorite book, you are likely to read it, since you want to see what is the big deal! But if a close friend is doing something that you know they shouldn’t, you can find someone that you trust to talk to. A parent or teacher will do their best to guide you in the right direction, but it is up to you to seek out the help.

Peer pressure is a part of life, and as any part of life, it can be good or bad depending on how you react in certain situations. And if a student is unsure of how to say no, remind them that they can say no thank you, seek out someone they respect, and that a good friend won’t mind if they say no. If you feel pressured, take a second, take a breath and remember, diamonds are made under pressure.

Tobacco prevention lessons have been taught to over 9,500 students so far this year through the Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators online course.  Juan is just one of the 600 participants who enrolled in this year’s course and will be making a difference in the lives of his students by teaching them the dangers of tobacco and nicotine products and helping them make informed decisions about tobacco in the future.

The Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators online course is now closed for registration.  We will open again in August.  Check out our site for videos and other activities.

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