Parent's Guide to Helping Kids Deal with Peer Pressure
Do your kids ever struggle with peer pressure? If so, you (and they) are not alone. Peer pressure is something that affects almost everyone at some point in their life.
Whether it's trying to fit in or just wanting the same things as other people, there are many reasons why children succumb to peer pressure.
As a parent, it can be hard to know what to do when your child comes home and tells you about all of the challenges they've faced that day because they didn't bow to peer pressure.
This article will help you learn more about how parents can help their children deal with this tricky problem:
Listen to your child
The first step to helping your child deal with peer pressure is to listen.
If they're not willing to tell you about their experience, try asking some open-ended questions like "Is there something worrying you?" or "What's on your mind?" Sometimes children feel embarrassed when they are put in these situations and it's easier for them if the parent(s) can approach the subject without making too much of a big deal out of it.
Teach your child how to recognise when they are feeling pressured by peers
A lot of children won't even realise that what other people want from them isn't necessarily what THEY want...
It sounds simple enough, but sometimes us adults need reminding ourselves because life happens and things get busy for everyone; children need to be reminded of how they feel when someone tries to pressure/coerce them into doing something.
They should learn to recognise what it feels like and that it is an important sign for them to pay attention to so they can protect themselves.
Remind your child why their opinion matters
People are always going bombard us with messages about not saying no or following our own instincts, but sometimes kids forget all of these things...
Parents have a great opportunity here because nobody will know their child better than mum/dad do so remind your children regularly why you think there is value in knowing yourself and making decisions based on what YOU want rather than other people's expectations of you.
Helping kids understand who THEY are will help them develop their sense of self-worth and remind them that they are unique individuals with different goals in life.
Teach your child the importance of resisting peer pressure
It's not always about other people; sometimes children do things to please others because it makes THEM feel good, too.
This can be a slippery slope when you're talking about making choices based on someone else's wants instead of what YOU want.
Helping children realise why resistance towards peer pressure is important can go a long way to helping them make better decisions in the future.
Parents should also lead by example here - if you don't succumb to peer pressure either, then chances are your child won't be as quick to jump at doing something just because everyone else is.
Remind your child that they can always come to you with their feelings or concerns, no matter how big or small
Peer pressure often happens when kids are in unfamiliar situations and it's easy for them to feel alone if the only people around are all older than them, BUT remember, YOU are their parent!
If children know they have a safe place at home where they can talk about anything/everything that's happened during the day, peer pressure becomes less daunting because there is always an adult who cares and is willing to listen.
It also helps parents get on top of potential problems early before things escalate into something bigger.
Don't be afraid to talk about drugs and alcohol with your kids
As mentioned earlier, peer pressure often takes place in situations where older kids are present (like parties or when hanging out after school).
Children might feel like it's not "cool" to bring up these subjects, however, parents should remember that this is the perfect time to talk.
If you start talking about drugs and alcohol while your kids are still young, chances are they will grow into adults who know more than enough information on how harmful these substances can be! There is no harm done by keeping communication channels open, even at an early age.
Parents can help prepare their children for dealing with peer pressure by keeping an open dialogue
Parents should bring up the idea of talking to them if someone tries to pressure them into doing something they know is wrong or against your family values.
Kids need to understand that this is OK and not be afraid of what might happen when they follow through, because chances are things will be fine.
They won't get in trouble because mum/dad trust them enough now to make good decisions on their own without relying on other people's opinions all the time.
And even though there's no guarantee that kids won't end up saying yes at some point - knowing how much you care about their feelings and well-being should never lead to regret.
Encourage them to say no and walk away from the situation
Kids need to know that they can always say no and walk away from a situation when it looks like peer pressure might be involved.
Sometimes the right choice is the toughest one but in this case, kids should understand that there's nothing brave about doing something you don't want to do just because someone else does too!
Only YOU get to decide what your limits are so make sure you teach your child how important it is not to let anyone else influence their choices - even if everyone around them seems happy with whatever decision has been made.
Teach your children the importance of self-respect
All of these points boil down into being able to resist peer pressure simply by building confidence within our own skin.
Children with high self esteem and who know they're good at something don't need to rely on others to make them feel better about themselves.
They are able to be their own person and do what's right for them rather than worrying someone else will think it's weird if they say no or walk away from a situation.
Every child is different, with different goals and priorities in life, so those kids should never feel guilty for letting everyone else around them think differently.
Be a good role model - don't let peer pressure get you down!
One of the best ways to help children deal with peer pressure is if their parents set a good example.
Kids will always follow in your footsteps and therefore, it's important that you find a healthy balance between being open about hot-button topics while also not going overboard.
Parents should never do something they know isn't right just because someone else does, both for their own sake and the sake of how this reflects on their child.
Remember: a lot of the time, your child will do what they see, not what they're told and watching the adults that they rely on doing the exact opposite of what they're saying to, will cause a LOT of confusion for both the child and the adult(s).
Parents can help prepare their children for dealing with peer pressure by keeping an open dialogue.
Kids need to understand that this is OK and not be afraid of what might happen when they follow through, because chances are things will go fine!
Children should never feel guilty for letting everyone else around them think differently about decisions - even if it doesn't always seem like the popular choice. One of the best ways to help kids deal with peer pressure is if their parents set a good example so don't do something you know isn't right just because someone else does both for your own sake and in front of your child.
Be brave enough to say "No, thanks" when somebody tries getting you involved in something awful but try bring up some interesting conversations from time-to-time so your children can see there are other options out there instead of becoming obsessed over whatever seems popular at the moment.
The parenting task of teaching kids to navigate the world is never ending.
We hope this article was helpful on your journey as a parent and that it provided some guidance on how to help children deal with peer pressure.
If there are any topics we didn't cover, please let us know! We love hearing from readers about what they want to read more about next time.
Which point do you think parents should focus on most when trying to teach their children how to handle peer pressure?