Peer pressure can start at a young age and often begins simply and seemingly harmless, but it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Parents need to work with their young children to teach them ways in which they can resist peer pressure.
With seven kids of my own, I’ve discovered several great ways to do just that.
Be Yourself: Children often succumb to peer pressure because they’re afraid to say no or to be themselves. We need to teach children that’s it’s perfectly okay to be different; we all don’t need to fit into one mold. When a child is comfortable in their own skin they’ll be more prepared to resist peer pressure. It’s not easy to teach a child that it’s okay to be different or to go against the grain, and it’s really a lesson that you’ll have to continue to teach as your child grows and encounters new difficulties and life experiences. Make sure your child knows you think the world of them and that you’re proud to be their parent; building them up will instill confidence, which will help them understand that they don’t need to change who they are to “fit-in” or “be cool”.
Reflect Often: Another important lesson parents need to teach children is to be reflective and to not make rash or rushed decisions. A reflective child will be less likely to be peer pressured into doing something risky or irresponsible, because they’ll take the time to weigh the pros and cons and seriously think about the best option or decision. Start young by discussing aloud with your child pros and cons of various and everyday activities, so they get into the habit of thinking things through. Instilling a sense of reflection can do wonders when it comes to helping children resist peer pressure.
Set a Good Example: I say it all the time, and I’ll say it again now: your kids are watching and learning from your every move. If you’re peer pressured into doing something you didn’t necessarily want to do they’ll be watching you and learning that it’s okay to succumb to peer pressure. Set a strong example, be a good role model and show your children that saying no in the face of peer pressure is perfectly acceptable.
Communicate: Solid communication between parent and child is extremely important. A relationship rich in communication will allow a parent to better understand their child. Furthermore, a child will likely be more open about any peer pressures they may be facing if they’re given the opportunity to express themselves freely and safely. The parent will then be able to step in and give their child techniques to resist peer pressure.
Teaching ways to resist peer pressure should begin at a young age. Start small and don’t give up.