As children grow and mature, they start to care more about what their peers think of them. They might start feeling pressure to join in with things they don’t want to do or acting in certain ways they think will please their friends. As much as you as a parent wish your child wouldn’t lose their innocence, it’s part of a parent’s job to prepare children for the possibility of peer pressure and help them develop the tools to handle it effectively. This Sixth Form in Lincolnshire outlines some ways in which parents can gently support their children to deal with peer pressure without being too overbearing.
Lead by example
In order to understand that it’s okay to set boundaries and say no to things, your child needs to see you doing that and leading by example. By modelling this kind of assertive behaviour, you’re showing your child that it’s acceptable to decide for themselves what they do and don’t want to do. You’ll also be giving them examples of how to word things which they can use themselves. It’s also a good idea to talk to your child about the importance of acting independently and making their own decisions, even though friends might be pressuring them to do what they want.
Help nurture positive relationships
Get to know your child’s friends and, if you notice that some friendships are more beneficial to them than others, encourage them to invest more in those relationships. Arrange regular play dates and activities with those friends – the more time your child spends with friends who have a positive influence on them, the more confident they’ll become. Try and avoid interactions with ‘friends’ who you know have a bad influence on your child, such as making them feel bad about themselves or encouraging them to do things that are out of character.
Focus on tolerance and acceptance
Teach your child about diversity, and how it’s important to accept people for who they are and not try to change them. If your child understands that we should tolerate differences and work to find common ground with people, it’s more likely they will resist any attempts by friends to change them. It’s also less likely that they’ll engage in peer pressuring activities themselves.
It can be hard for children to stand up for themselves and assert their independence, but it’s important as parents to teach them that they do have the ability to act autonomously whilst providing them with some tools and tactics they can use to do so effectively.