Everybody experiences the need to fit in and belong. This is especially important for children and young people. Peer pressure is also a constant challenge for parents. It can be difficult to know when to give in and when to stand your ground. This article provides 11 tips for resisting peer pressure, based on the latest research. Whether your child is a toddler or a teenager, these tips will help you create a strong foundation for resisting negative peer pressure.
What is peer pressure?
Peer pressure happens when a peer group influences another peer to do something they may not want to do or encourages them to stop doing something they enjoy. It can have negative consequences on the peer being pressured and those who are around them.
How can peer pressure affect a child?
Not listening to your own instincts and desires and agreeing with peer pressure can lead to peer pressure becoming self-inflicted peer pressure. This can lead to a child feeling guilty and ashamed about something they participated in, and it could damage their relationships with others around them.
How do you know if your child is being peer pressured?
If you see your child spending less time on activities they enjoy and more time with peer groups, or acting differently in some way to how they normally act, peer pressure might be an influencing factor.
Paying Attention to Your Feeling
Part of growing up is being exposed to pressures from people inside and outside the family. Peer pressure can come from friendship groups, classmates, teammates, or even older siblings.
Peer pressure can be subtle, and kids may express it through dressing, talking or behaving in a way that their friends think is acceptable. At other times, peer pressure is more direct and can involve kids feeling pressured into doing things they don’t want to do or know is wrong.
It’s difficult for a child to say “no” to friends. Helping your child pay attention to their own feelings and beliefs about what is right and wrong can help them recognise the right thing to do. Self-confidence and self-determination help your child stand firm, walk away and resist doing something they know is inconsistent with their beliefs.
How can you help your child?
- Keep the lines of communication open. Let your kids know you’re always there to listen and talk to them about what’s happening in their life.
- Build up their confidence by trusting them to make good choices. Show them you have faith in their ability to make decisions. You can use the Superpower Kids MAKING THE BEST DECISION printable.
- Get to know their friends. Invite their friends over to play with your kids in your own home.
- Encourage your kids to do a range of activities and meet new people. Having friends in different settings can take the pressure off trying to fit in with a single friendship group.
- Keep an open mind. Let them know they can talk to you about things even when it might make you uncomfortable or challenge you.
- Understand the strong pull your kids have toward spending time with their peers. If you can, allow them enough freedom to explore these friendships and not take it personally when they don’t agree with you about their friends.
- Pick your battles. Don’t stress over the small things like changes in the way they dress, but take the time to talk about the big things that pose the greatest risks. By not focusing on the small stuff they might be more open to hearing about the big stuff.
- Teach kids about peer pressure, so they’re aware of what’s happening to them. Help them understand what peer pressure looks like and how to handle it in the moment.
- Help them find balance in their life. Teach them how having friends is important, but so is being true to oneself and expressing their own individuality.
- Set realistic boundaries with your kids. For example, if you can’t stop them being friends with people you disapprove of, you could try negotiating where and when they spend time with their new friends.
- Come up with a plan so they can get out of tricky situations. For example, before attending a party, you both agree they will text you to pick them up if they feel uncomfortable or want to leave.
Self-determination is key
Peer pressure is always a challenge for kids and parents. It’s important to build a strong foundation early on. You can use our Self-determination Guide as your go-to resource that will help your child navigate peer pressure with confidence. Check it out now!