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 affect the health of children at younger ages than ever before. Here are some things you can do to prepare your child to deal with peer pressure.
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 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 noticeable in middle school and declining after high school. Children who are very social and verbal are more susceptible to pressure from peer relations.
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.
Providing a loving, accepting, and supportive home can help your child resist the temptations of peer pressure.
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.
Tell us! How have you prepared your kids for peer pressure?