Peer pressure can affect your child’s life in more ways than you can ever imagine. Pressure to fit in may have a positive effect if your child’s peers encourage healthy behavior. But it’s the kind of peer pressure that has a negative influence that we worry about, leading your child to make bad judgment calls, or to participate in risky activities.
No matter what, you need to help your children make their own decisions and not just follow the crowd for the sake of following the crowd. Your children need to learn to do what’s right – right for them and their healthy growth, maturity, and safety.
It doesn’t matter what age your child is, it’s human nature to want to be liked. Everyone wants and needs friends. As kids grow and the hormones start taking up residence, attitudes change. What interested them last month holds no fascination for them today. Priorities change at the drop of a hat. They start moving away from the family and start taking steps into their own world, a world centering on their friends. It’s scary for the child to go through, but it’s even scarier for the parent who watches it happen, and feels helpless.
Peer pressure is probably a parent’s worst fear. You send them off to school every day knowing that drugs and alcohol are easy to get, weapons can be brought from home, and hate crimes and bullying may be happening. The school grounds may not be a safe haven for your child. That is why it is up to the parents to talk to their children and take an active role when it comes to shaping their attitudes about what goes on around them. Conversations with your children will help ease your child’s fears, and your fears, too.
Rock Solid Support
If your child knows you are rock solid in your support, he or she will more likely grow up with a strong sense of self. They will have a better chance of resisting the peer pressures that could lead them into trouble when they have a base built in the knowledge that you believe in them. If you are available for your child, he or she will know where to turn to when there are questions and problems. Be consistent, be firm, be fair, but most of all, be there.
One way a child can resist peer pressure is to know in their own mind what they want. Children need to know what they believe in, what they value. A child with a solid understanding of their belief system and values will think twice before stepping out of their comfort zone to do something they know is wrong, something they feel uncomfortable about. Self-confident children believe in themselves and won’t need the approval of another person, even a friend, to feel like they belong.
Help your child gain confidence, self-worth, and a belief in their very being, and you will be encouraging your child in other ways, as well. These children are self-directed and tend to have activities in their lives that interest them. They don’t need the approval of other classmates because they are confident about what they are doing with their lives. They can pursue interests simply because they want to, regardless of whether or not the activity helps them fit in.
You won’t always be able to make the world a perfect place for your child. But, you can help your child live in an imperfect world by giving your child the tools to become a stronger, more self-assured person. If your child feels comfortable in his or her own skin, has a strong support system, and knows what he or she wants and believes, no amount of peer pressure will sway your child from the right path. This will ensure your child’s success in life and it will also help you rest a little easier during these topsy-turvy years.
by jacqueline Itson