Role-playing can be a great way to teach kids how to deal with uncomfortable (and sometimes dangerous) situations.
For instance, consider the conditions surrounding a teenager when it comes to drinking alcohol for the first time.
Typically, this scenario plays out at a friend's house with a small group of friends or teammates. One of the kids has access to alcohol and suggests that they "try it".
If your son or daughter is part of the group, the pressure to conform can be daunting.
To prepare my kids for this scenario, I role-play with them.
Scenario #1: Sneaking alcohol
Teammate: "Hey, wanna try some beer? I took some from the garage. My parents have no clue."
Your child (reluctantly): "I'm not sure. I haven't ever tried it."
Teammate: "Dude, so what. Everyone has to start sometime. Try it..."
Your child: "Nah, no thanks."
Teammate: "Dude, what's the big deal? Just take a sip. It's not going to kill you. I do it all the time."
Your child: "I don't want to barf, man."
Teammate: "You won't get sick from one sip. C'mon. I thought you wanted to be part of the team? Everyone's doin' it."
Your child: "What if your parents find out?"
Teammate: "Dude, it's not a big deal. It's not like we're doing drugs."
Your child: "Okay, let me see the bottle".
And so it goes...
Chances are your son or daughter has been (or will be) in a similar situation. Without any prior training or awareness, it's very easy for them to cave in.
To help them deal with such acute peer pressure, I role-play with them. I play their "friend" and they have to respond to my pleading. And I am ruthless.
I push extremely hard and make it extremely uncomfortable for them.
After allowing them to struggle with the scenario for the first time, I give them a few options to try out.
Then we go through the scenario again and I let them practice with these responses. And then we repeat it a few times.
After a few runs, they become very comfortable executing their plan under relentless pressure.
Stay on Message
Like any good politician, the key is to stay "on message" and not to add too many layers of excuses. Do not waver. Keep it simple and be confident. Eventually, the friend will give up and move to an easier target.
As a lifelong non-drinker, I have used this strategy successfully countless times over the last 30+ years.
More challenging scenarios to role-play:
There are unlimited scenarios that your child will face as they grow older.
You can't stop your kids from making poor decisions, but you can give them tools and training to provide an early warning system.
By getting out in front of these scenarios, your child is less likely to be caught by surprise. Practicing these scenarios will make them feel like "they've been there before."
Pick one (or more) of these scenarios and role-play with your son or daughter, over and over again. Add some comedic lines and make it fun for them!
These are the types of real-world strategies and tactics I address with students enrolled in PrepWell Academy.
Author: PrepWell Academy's Founder, Phil Black, has spent a lifetime cracking the code on the world's most competitive programs: Yale University, Harvard Business School, Navy SEALs, Goldman Sachs, Entrepreneurship, Shark Tank, etc.
Inside PrepWell Academy, Black teaches students everything they need to know about the college admissions process in a series of expertly-timed, 3-5-minute, weekly training videos starting in 9th grade and continuing through 12th grade [Note: this program can only be joined in 9th or 10th grade]. My specialties include military service academies, ROTC scholarships, Ivy League, and student-athletes.