Mason’s Message: Parents can help kids push away peer pressure

Local News

Evansville teenager Mason Bogard died this week and his parents blame it on a social media challenge.

“The word that best describes Mason is extraordinary,” a nurse at Deaconess Hospital read in front of hundreds.

He suffered a massive brain injury doing the so-called “choking game.” It is said to bring a momentary euphoria. Instead, the challenge brought tears and sadness to his family and friends.

The dare is extremely dangerous and peer pressure could be the culprit for Mason choice, along with dozens of other kids across the country trying this “challenge” online.

So how do you talk to your kids about this topic?

Mason’s parents shared a strong message on Facebook, during his honor walk through Deaconess on the way to donate his organs.

The 15 year-old’s gift of life comes at a high cost.

“Mason could always see the beauty within,” the nurse said. “We are so very proud of our hero.”

The emotional goodbye from friends, family, and total strangers was shared by Mason’s mom. It is a heartbreaking reminder to appreciate every moment.

How to talk to your kids

Dr. James Schroeder says parents have the responsibility to talk to your kids. Teach them how to handle peer pressure by asking a simple question.

“How would I feel 10 minutes from now about doing this?” he said.

As a child psychologist, he works with kids who are constantly on the wrong side of that decision. He believes teens can learn about consequences by considering the effects 10 minutes, 10 hours, or 10 days away.

Still, Schroeder says parents need to remember their kid’s brains are much different than their own. Teens are naturally willing to take risks as they try to fit in with a group.

“The idea of risk-taking seems like the cool thing to do,” he said. “To say it’s the craziest thing in the world, what are you doing, that’s ridiculous, I might be shutting the door for a potential conversation.”

Schroeder thinks it is vital to empathize and put yourself in their shoes. Ask questions to make your teen think about the future.

Social and emotional skills take time to learn and build. Schroeder believes parents must talk about peer pressure and the best way to say no.

“What was the mistake here” How could you have done things differently that would have helped you out? How would it have gotten you to a better place?”

Unlike math and reading, school doesn’t always teach social and emotional skills as clearly. Parents don’t have to fear talking to their children.

Teens aren’t always ready to figure things out on their own and Mason is a painful reminder.

His organ donation saved five lives.

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This story was originally published on May 8, 2019

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