No matter what, you need to help our children make their own decisions and not just follow the crowd for the sake of following the crowd. Our 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 you are, it’s natural and normal 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 us the parent who watches it happen, and sometimes can leave us feeling helpless.
Peer pressure is probably a parent’s worst fear ( know it’s mine). 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 us to talk to our children and take an active role when it comes to shaping their attitudes about what goes on around them. Conversations with our kids will help ease their fears, and our fears, too.
Rock Solid Support
If our kids know we are rock solid in our support, they are more likely to grow up with a strong sense of self. Hopefully this will translate to a better chance of resisting the peer pressures that could lead them into trouble when they have a base built in the knowledge that we believe in them. If we are available for your kids, they will know where to turn to when there are questions and problems. This includes situations that transcend peer pressure, such as cyberbullying or peer to peer harassment.
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.
We won’t always be able to make the world a perfect place for our children, but we can help them live in an imperfect world by giving them the tools to become a stronger, more self-assured person. If our kids feel comfortable in their own skin, have a strong support system, and know what they want and believe, no amount of peer pressure will sway them from from the right path. No kid (or adult) always makes the right choices but setting up a good foundation will help us parents rest a little easier during those topsy-turvy years.