Children and teens today are constantly faced with the temptation to be "cool" to their peers. Often, this involves doing daring things to gain a reputation as fearless and fun. Unfortunately, a lot of these cool things are illegal and dangerous- just as drugs and alcohol. Negative peer pressure is everywhere in school. Here are ways to help your child deal with this pressure that they experience daily.
First, What exactly is negative peer pressure? what is the difference between positive and negative peer pressure? Both things involve peers pressuring a child to say or do certain things. The main difference is that positive peer pressure involves peer pressure to do productive behaviours. These behaviours could be studying, practicing for a sport, or doing kind deeds. The alternative is peer pressure to do harmful things- drink and drive, do drugs, or be mean to other people.
Teaching children how to deal with negative peer pressure
1. Encourage a strong support system Children need friends. They just need the right kind of friends. Encourage your child to develop friendships with people who will show them how to resist negative peer pressure. They can meet these friends through organisations at school. They can also meet these friends at church or volunteer organisations outside of school. If your child is having a real hard time, you may consider therapy or a support group to help as well.
2. Provide Resources Your child should have resources available to help themselves if the negative effects of peer pressure start to cause them problems. Accessing self-help resources online is becoming more common for young people. A simple google search will bring many websites for assistance. However, many children may not think to do this. They may not even think that peer pressure is what is bring about their problems. Keep information for a peer pressure helpline on the fridge or somewhere accessible that the child knows about. If the number is right in front of their face, they may be more likely to use the help.
3. Encourage Personal Responsibility Yes, your child may have done something unsavoury due to outside influences. However, your child did do it. They need to understand that peer pressure is not an excuse for their actions. As your child gets older, they need to learn to take responsibility for their individual actions- even if the actions were done in a group. Punish your child for their actions. Punishment is a negative impact of peer pressure.
4. Encourage Confidence and Independent Thought Insecure children are more likely to fall to peer pressure than other children. Teach your child to be confident. Do this by rewarding and encouraging positive behaviour. Also, give validity to what your child says and let them express themselves. Having this confidence will make it easier for your child to tell people "no" when pressured into doing things.
Encourage independent thinking as well. Your child should understand that they don't need to think the same way as everybody else or so what everybody else is doing.
5. Don't Ban Friends When your child makes friends with someone that you don't particularly like, you might be tempted to tell your child not to hang out with that friend anymore. This is one of the worst things that you can do if you want them to stop being friends. Try to welcome the friend and be a positive influence on the friend. Even when the friend and your child may get into trouble together, forbidding your child from seeing their friend is only going to make you the enemy. Avoid doing this at all costs. Rather, punish your child appropriately and involve the other child's parents as necessary.
It's almost inevitable for a child to never succumb to peer pressure at some point. Be prepared for this struggle during the teenage years. Talk to your children. Be sure to be understanding and supportive. And when your child makes a good decision, encourage them and tell them that they made a good decision.