As much as any parent wants to shield their kid from any harm or wrongdoing, staying by their side constantly grows harder as they get older. As such, parents can’t be there to hold their child’s hand and always be their voice of reason, especially when it comes to peer pressure. Instead, it’s up to parents to give their kids the tools so that when the time comes, kids can work their way through being faced with peer pressure.
Here’s how to help your child deal with peer pressure.
Identify and Define Peer Pressure
Before trying to give kids a step-by-step guide to avoiding or dealing with peer pressure, parents should first define peer pressure. For older children, they may already be able to identify what peer pressure is, but for younger ones, offering them a clear definition will give them a name to what they may be feeling around their peers.
Peer pressure, in its simplest terms, is the influence to act or behave differently than you would normally because of those around you.
- There is explicit peer pressure, where someone directly pressures one into doing something.
- There is also implicit pressure, where one feels more pressured by the idea of not fitting in or being looked at differently for not conforming.
Play Out Scenarios
Once your child is given a clearer definition of peer pressure, put their knowledge to the test by playing out different scenarios. Giving them a walkthrough of different situations where they can encounter peer pressure can be more effective than giving them a quick lecture on not falling to peer pressure.
Let them know that peer pressure can be their friends encouraging to do something they usually wouldn’t normally do: skip class, partake in illegal activity, harass someone, watch something they know they aren’t supposed to, and so on. These types of pressures are usually associated with the phrases of “Well, everyone else is doing it,” or “Nobody is going to know, it’s just us here.”
Or, it can be an internal dilemma — the pressure to fit in or struggle with how they are perceived by their peers. Your child may feel the need to change the way they dress, the way they look, or even how they act around a certain group in order to fit in and be accepted. Having your child understand what peer pressure can look like will help them identify it as they encounter it on their own.
Point Out Alternative Sources/Healthy Models
Many kids are more vulnerable when they feel that succumbing to peer pressure is their only option. This can mean feeling stuck within a friend group, and feeling if they don’t conform they will never have friends again. Talk them through this type of worry, and point out how they can help themselves.