Peer Pressure in Children
Why You Should be Concerned:
Peer pressure has always been a concern for mothers. As children grow, their peers become a bigger influence on them. Depending on the peer, that influence can be healthy or unhealthy for your child. Most of the peer pressure elementary school children are exposed to may be relatively harmless. However, the health of your child will be at great risk if they do not learn skills to withstand peer pressure and practice
them during these years. Increases in drug and alcohol use, and sexual activity (even in middle school years) seriously affects the health of children at younger ages than ever before.
Know Your Child:
It is very important to assess your child’s vulnerability. Remember that all children are different, and while one of yours may be very confident and decisive, another may not be. Most children, at some point, are going to become susceptible to peer pressure. It usually escalates with age, becoming very noticeable in middle school and declining after high school.
Children who are very social and verbal are more susceptible to pressure from peer relations. This is because they really care what others think about them and will be anxious if they do not have the relationships they desire. You can help your child focus less on school relationships by providing opportunities for relationships outside of school. Clubs, sports, art classes, church youth groups, and visits with cousins and other family members can all be opportunities for your child to form friendships. For children who are less adept at handling peer pressure, these places will provide opportunities for your child to befriend someone who is the same developmental age – but not necessarily in the same grade.
What You Can Do:
- Affirm your child by giving them acceptance, affection and support.
- Know your child’s classmates, and regularly ask your child about their day.
- Help your child to develop healthy friendships by arranging play dates, participating in after-school programs, scouts, and church youth groups.
- Role play with your child about how to walk away from peer pressure.
- Discuss the importance of refusing cigarettes, alcohol and drugs.
- Let your child know it’s okay to talk to you about peers pressuring them.
- Don’t overreact when your child shares information with you.
Providing a loving, accepting, and supportive home can help your child resist the temptations of peer pressure. Talking to and teaching your child will make a difference in his or her life. It isn’t a guarantee that your child will resist every type of peer pressure he or she encounters. However, it can provide the strength necessary to face many difficult decisions in the future.
Teach Your Child the FRIEND Acronym:
F ind a true friend: Someone who likes you just the way you are
R un from pressure:If the pressure is too much, just walk away from the peer
I dentify weaknesses:Know who pressures you and what they are pressuring you about
E xplain to mom:How you are being pressured
N ever give in: To pressure to do something wrong
D evelop self-esteem:Know that you are awesome just the way you are
Seek Professional Advice:
If your child is being pressured by peers and is showing signs of anxiety, seek professional advice. Contact your school guidance counselor. Early intervention is ideal for teaching healthy life skills to deal with peer pressure.
More helpful information on this topic:
- How your parenting style can help you discover the two most important factors in raising children
- Kids and Cheating
- Anxiety Resource
- Bullying Resource
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