|Peer pressure is when an individual chooses to do something they would not otherwise do as they want to feel accepted by their friends. / Photo by: Wavebreak Media Ltd via 123rf|
As your child grows older, they will be faced with more challenging decisions, wrote D’Arcy Lyness of KidsHealth, a non-profit children’s health system. Of course, choosing between playing field hockey or soccer is a different scenario altogether, as it doesn’t compel your child to make a distinction between right or wrong.
On the other hand, there are instances when questions involve morality such as cutting classes, smoking cigarettes, or lying to their parents. With these, it’s normally hard to make a decision to decline when your friends and peers are involved. Making up your mind and standing your ground to do the right thing can be tougher. Peer pressure can happen to both children and adults.
What Is Peer Pressure and/or Influence?
Peer pressure and/or influence is when an individual chooses to do something they would not otherwise do as they want to feel accepted and valued by their friends, according to raisingchildren.net.au, Australia’s trusted, online parenting resource. Peer pressure is also not always about doing something against one’s will.
Peer pressure and/or influence can be positive for your child. For example, they might be influenced to try a new activity, become more assertive, or get themselves more involved in school. But we can’t also deny the disadvantages of peer pressure and influence such as choosing the same clothes or style as their friends, changing the way they talk, engaging in vices, or breaking the rules. Sometimes, your child might be curious to try something new because of the statement “everybody is doing it,” making them leave their judgment call or common sense behind.
In that regard, peer pressure can be subtle and direct, explained Kids Helpline, Australia’s online counseling service. Peer pressure is a lot more common in children and young people than you think. Growing up entails being exposed to pressure from friends and people inside and outside the family.
How to Help Your Child Deal With Peer Pressure
Here are some ways parents can adopt to help their kids withstand peer pressure and do the right thing.
1. Strengthen Your Relationship with Your Child
Forming a strong, positive relationship with your child helps you overcome tough times together. Kids Helpline recommended talking to your child about their day “and understanding their routines and habits.”
Try to form this kind of relationship as early as possible as this serves as a foundation for difficult conversations later on such as dealing with peer pressure. The point is to keep communication lines open to make them feel more comfortable when they open up. As stated by the staff of non-profit educational platform Greatshools.org, don’t overreact when your child talks about what their friends are doing. You might hear something that may upset you, but if you lecture or overreact, your child may not open up about these issues.
2. Build Up Their Self-Esteem and Confidence
Kids who have stronger self-esteem are better at resisting negative peer pressure. Help them build their self-esteem and confidence by encouraging your child to try new activities that give them a chance of success and to keep trying when they encounter an obstacle. It is recommended for parents to model self-confidence. Show your child how to act confidently, which serves as a first step to building confidence. Don’t forget to praise your little one when the situation calls for it. It’s also a way to build their confidence.
|Help the child build their self-esteem and confidence by encouraging them to try new activities that give them a chance of success. / Photo by: Antonio Guillem via 123rf|
3. Learn to Say “No”
It’s hard to say “no” when your child is subjected to peer pressure. If your child is encouraged to try smoking, you can tell them to say, “No, it makes my asthma worse” or “No, I don’t like the way it makes me smell” rather than merely saying “No thanks.” Encourage your precious one to pay attention to their beliefs and feelings about what is right or wrong to prompt them to do what is right. Inner strength and self-confidence will help your child stand their ground.
While it’s helpful to have another friend or a classmate who is also willing to say “no” to negative peer pressure, your child can still assert themselves and walk away. Lyness suggested staying away from peers or friends who pressure your child to do something bad. It’s better for them to find new friends to hang out with.
4. Encourage Your Child to Have a Wide Network
They should choose their friends wisely be it online or offline, as suggested by HealthLink BC, a Canadian health platform. If your child is friends with people who have good values and self-esteem, then your little one will be away from risky behavior and resistant to peer pressure.
Further, tell your child to develop friendships “from many sources” such as sport, clubs, or family activities. This way, your child will have other sources of support in case a “friendship goes wrong.”
|If the child is friends with people who have good values and self-esteem, then they will be away from risky behavior and resistant to peer pressure. / Photo by: Sergey Novikov via 123rf|
5. Agree On a Code Word
Your child can use a code word if they want you to help them but don’t want their peers to know they are asking you for help. For instance, if your child is uncomfortable at a party, they can text or call you with an agreed-upon phrase like “Mom, I have a really bad earache. Can you come get me?” If your child calls or texts you, try to focus on their choice to ask for help rather than the risky situation they are in.
Peer pressure is a reality in anyone’s life, thus it is essential to equip your child with the necessary values and skills to resist it. Help your child build their self-confidence. Most importantly, keep an open mind whenever they talk about their friends or issues they are facing at school.