How to Help Children Cope With Peer Pressure
During puberty and adolescence, friends tend to become the mirror in which our children want to see their reflection. But what happens when a group of friends pressures our children to do something? Together, we'll discover what we can do to help our children cope with peer pressure.
During adolescence, friends become our children’s role models. Teenagers often stop observing their parents and begin looking at their friends to decide how to dress, talk, and behave. Peer groups push adolescents in one direction or another. So, how can we help our children cope with peer pressure?
We’ve all gone through that stage in which all we care about is fitting in. Feeling like part of a group is particularly essential for individuals between the ages of approximately 12 and 20. Therefore, peer pressure becomes vitally important and can affect the lives of our children in good and bad ways.
How to overcome peer pressure
Going against what a group of friends values or desires can be extremely difficult during this stage in life. Let’s analyze the situation further.
What is peer pressure?
The people that are around us in our environment inevitably influence our lives one way or another. During adolescence, friends have a greater influence than during other life stages. This is because children week to identify with other children of the same age to:
- Be like those that they admire
- Fit into a group
- Not feel strange
- Avoid being made fun of for being “different”
Making decisions is hard enough as it is, especially when they encounter contradicting opinions. And that’s exactly what happens to young people. Peer groups pull them in one direction, even though teens often believe that they should do just the opposite. It can be extremely complicated for adolescents to cope with peer pressure.
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Is peer pressure always negative?
In general, when we talk about peer pressure, we focus on the negative aspects. However, there are two sides to this phenomenon. As we’ve already said, when we talk about peer pressure, we’re talking about the influence that peers have on children and adolescents. That influence can be positive or negative.
Let’s look at an example. If a friend who’s an avid reader recommends a book for your child to read, he or she may just end up reading it. So, in this case, we could consider peer pressure as a good thing.
Your children’s friends can help them develop new abilities and interests or, on the other hand, may cause them to incline towards risky or inappropriate activities.
How can parents help children to cope with peer pressure
As parents, it’s our duty to guide children down the path that will lead toward their proper development. That means preventing them from participating in activities or actions that could put their physical or emotional integrity at risk.
Therefore, we want to share a series of tips on how to help your children cope with peer pressure. Remember: it’s never to early to start, so there’s no reason to wait until your children reach adolescence to apply the advice below.
1. Teach your children to say “no.”
One of the first words that children usually learn to say is “no”. Then, after numerous explanations, we teach them how to say “yes”. However, it’s fundamental for parents to teach their children to evaluate situations and say no when they need to.
- You can role play with your child or act out situations where your children need to say no to something.
- It’s also important that you allow your children to model this behavior on someone important: You. Make sure to listen to and support their “no’s” when they’re little so they learn that saying no can be safe.
2. Teach your children to think for themselves.
Going with the flow can put your children’s health and integrity at risk. Teach them to think for themselves, to consider possible outcomes, and evaluate best and worst-case scenarios.
You may also want to read: Mood Changes during Adolescence: The Causes and How to Deal with Them
3. Dialogue with your children.
Conversing with your children and tell them stories from your own adolescence can help to build trust. What’s more, it helps you bridge the age gap and allow them to see that you also make mistakes at their age.
4. Encourage healthy self-esteem.
Those children with healthy self-esteem are less impressionable that those who seek the recognition of their peers. Work on your children’s self-esteem to help them cope with peer pressure.
If you need to, get some extra support from a specialist.
5. Provide tools to help your children distinguish between right and wrong.
To make decisions, every child and adolescent needs to learn to identify attitudes and actions that are right and those that are wrong. Take time to teach your children to know the difference.
Teaching children firm values is essential when it comes to keeping your children out of problematic situations
6. Make sure your child’s group of friends is a positive one
A 2010 study revealed that adolescents with friends that smoke and consume other harmful substances are more likely to do the same. Likewise, young people whose friends or peer groups don’t participate in these activities are less likely to smoke or consume other harmful substances. Of course, you can’t choose your children’s friends for them, but you can guide them so that they choose groups that make positive choices.
These are just some of the strategies that you can employ to help your children cope with peer pressure. In addition, we encourage you to talk with your children, discover their interests, and get to know their friends. That way, they’re less likely to feel alone or pressured and more likely to confide in you when they have problems.