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Help Your Child Overcome Peer Pressure

It’s not easy to be a parent! You have to be constantly thinking about the well-being and upbringing of your children. Your thoughts and actions evolve mainly around your children’s needs and wants. You have to think about their education, their nutrition and their health. You also have to be especially vigilant about instilling proper virtues and qualities into their lives so that they can become well-rounded, fine adults. More experienced parents can testify that while you may succeed to mould your child into an ideal little kid, the moment the little one goes to school, the both of you will have another whole new issue to deal with, and that is… Peer pressure! Read on to see how you can help your child overcome this childhood dilemma.

What is peer pressure?

Friends, or peers, will always play an important role in the lives of kids. Other than family, kids will need friends who they can rely on for social and emotional support. It’s part of life and an essential part of natural growth and development to have friends and be a friend to those in need of one. As kids grow older, influences of friends grow stronger. The problem is, some of these influences may not be positive ones.

When kids feel compelled to cave in to the negative influences of a friend or friends, it’s called peer pressure. It can be pretty tough to deal with it as a kid, so parents will have to step in and help them veer their way out.

Standing up to peer pressure is one of the greatest challenges that a child could face. Many are unable to withstand the challenge and are led into participating in activities which they otherwise would not. Here are 10 ways you can help your child overcome pressure from peers.

1. Build a strong bond with your child

Children who have a strong bond with their family, particularly their elders, are more likely to turn to them in times of need, such as when they’re being pressured into doing things they don’t like to. Also, if that bond is strengthened with lessons in good values from a young age, it is likely too that the child will respect and honour them and be better able to resist peer pressure. Such bonds however, need to be nurtured long before your child’s teenage years.

2. Help build your child’s self-esteem

Children who are confident and have positive self-worth are better able to resist negative peer pressure. A child with a healthy self-esteem is also more likely to pursue friendships with children who are good role models and they tend to identify better with those who think like themselves. You can always find opportunities to boost your child’s self-esteem and enjoy success with activities that capitalize on his or her strengths and interests. Of course, don’t forget a very essential part of building a kid’s self-esteem – Loving, sincere praises!

3. Set a good example

Children are keen observers of their parents and love to mimic everyday actions. They learn a lot from what they see so give them a good show to watch! If you appear to be constantly giving in to the pressure of others, then, expect that your child will less likely resist peer pressure when the time comes.

Note: If you happen give up a bad habit, like drinking alcohol, despite peer pressure, you will be making a vivid and positive impression on your child to stand up to peer pressure too!

4. Talk with your child about peer pressure

Your child needs to know that you understand how hard it can be as a kid in school. All the things one has to do just to stand out! Use your influence to convince your child that one can stand out just as well by resisting what everyone else is doing! In fact, a kid may garner his or her own set of fans for being the ‘rebellious’ one to not give in to others’ expectations.

On that same note, you can also help your child understand that a friend who is pressuring someone to do something that may be harmful is not much of a friend. Appeal your child’s desire for autonomy by encouraging individuality and strength to withstand pressure and not let others manipulate or make decisions for him or her.

5. Avoid overreacting at all costs

Your child may tell you things that may make your jaw drop. Overreacting will inevitably discourage future interactions with you regarding the issues he or she is facing in school. Instead, be the cool one and use these teachable moments to introduce some cautions without demoralizing or lecturing. Remember, sometimes, kids may seem as though they don’t think much of your advice, but they ARE listening and will probably use that advice when they need to. So, advise well!

6. Halt the constant battles

Don’t make an issue out of your child’s wanting to wear the same clothes as his or her friends or adopting a hairstyle that is out of the norm. Remember that it is only peer pressure if a kid does something he or she doesn’t really want to, so unless your child walks up to you and sadly states that he would like to sport a purple and orange Mohican hairdo, do try to chill and check out this possible self-searching phase he or she might be going through. Remember too that battling your child constantly over minor issues may drive your child toward peers who are similarly alienated from their parents.

Not sweating the small stuff will enable you to be more effective when you’re helping them to handle more pressing issues later on.

7. Build good decision-making skills

When teaching a child about making good decisions and good choices, the younger you start, the better. Always make choices available where ever possible and encourage your child to differentiate between a good decision and a bad one. Don’t forget to explain your reasons for them being ‘good’ and ‘bad’ too! A child who is confident enough to trust his own instincts when making decisions will be less likely to let others make decisions for him, especially bad ones!

8. Help your child develop responses to peers

As you already know in advance that peer pressure will come knocking at the door sooner or later, help your child figure out beforehand what to say to peers who might pressure your kid to participate in high-risk activities. Suggest responses that are short and simple that can be uttered comfortably. If possible, a little role-play for practice in front of a mirror might go a long way.

9. Get to know your child’s friends

You do not have to conduct an interview with each and every friend your child has, but if you have a bad hunch about a certain friend of your child, then you’re probably right. Make a point of encouraging your child to invite this friend home. Spend some time with him or her to better assess the influences this friend may have on your child.

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