You say you “change the way students think.” Can you explain how you accomplish that?
There’s no mystery behind what I do. Parents aren’t always aware of what’s going on—kids with suicidal thoughts, no hope, kids cutting themselves so that they can control the pain. But I give kids hope. I tell them they’re special. I tell them to love their mom, their dad, their grandma, their brother and sister. Love is the greatest gift. Let me tell you, when your time comes, the last thing you’re going to care about is how many Facebook friends you have. You’re going to want your family.
How can parents today effectively guide their teens to make the right choices?
Get your kids offline! But when I tell parents this, they say they can’t, because they don’t know their kids’ passwords. Really? It’s like the inmates are running the asylum! Kids want boundaries. Kids respond to boundaries. It’s what makes them feel safe. The things kids can access online within seconds, these are things we were never exposed to when we were that age. Engage with your kids and with your child’s life. Does your child witness bullying at school? If so, explain how he can stand up for someone else.
What are the key points of your message for dealing with peer pressure?
I tell teens and kids, “You never know what someone else is going through.” Perhaps someone is experiencing problems at home, perhaps their parents are going through a nasty divorce. And your words to that person could push them over the edge. Your words could cause that person to spiral out of control. It doesn’t matter whether someone is from an affluent home or a poorer area. Kids want to share their pain. Kids want to be helped. Reach out to them. Touch their heart and you will touch their mind.
Do you have a message for the actual bullies?
I tell bullies directly: You cannot continue this behavior and expect to have a healthy relationship with your family and friends. You cannot expect to have a happy life. The greatest joy in life is making other people feel special. It’s very short-lived to mock someone and make your friends laugh, but making someone feel special is a great gift. When you help someone become successful, you are making a success of yourself.
Marc Mero is the founder of the nonprofit organization Champion of Choices Inc. and the author of How to Be the Happiest Person on the Planet, as well as a former WCW and WWE Wrestling Champion. For more information on helping your teen make the right choices, go to thinkpoz.org.