Peer Pressure/The Power of Parents

It is fall and school is back in session.  Do you remember how it felt to start back to school each fall?  Your memories may range from anticipation and excitement to anxiety and fear.

An excellent article in verywellfamily.com discussed ways parents can help kids resist peer pressure so that they can stay healthy.

It can be difficult to resist the power of a group.  Even parents have a hard time standing up to peer pressure. Teach them those skills to think independently, have confidence in themselves, and that will help them handle and resist peer pressure during the school-age years, when kids are developing a sense of who they are and what values they believe in.

There are many benefits to positive peer influence, peer pressure, on the other hand, can have negative consequences, such as when groups dare each other to do something dangerous or harmful. Here are some important ways parents can teach their child how to be strong and think independently and resist the strong pull of peer pressure.

  1. Help them understand the difference between peer pressure and peer influence. Teach your child to distinguish between pressure—peers trying to convince her to do something she may not want to do—and influence—peers who may inspire her to do something positive and good for others and for herself.
  2. Teach them to say no. No is a powerful word, and one that even adults sometimes have trouble saying. It’s hard to go against the tide and be different, and it takes tremendous emotional and mental will and strength to be able to say, “I don’t agree.”
  3. Practice ways to be respectful when disagreeing.As important as it is to feel strong and confident enough with yourself to disagree or say no, it’s also important to do it in a way that’s respectful to others. Go over ways your child can disagree in a friendly manner, such as by saying something like, “I know you think x and I respect your opinion but I believe y and I hope you can respect my opinion, too.”
  4. Highlight the many upsides of standing apart from the crowd. Remind your child that people who are creative and successful often take a different path and think differently from everyone else. Just going along to get along isn’t always the way. While it’s important to learn how to work with others and cooperate, being an individual who knows how to be different is a very important skill.
  5. Help them to understand that social dynamics and situations change all the time. Relationships and group configurations can seem to be one way and then quickly change into something else.  Those who understand this and who learn to see things with an eye toward the future are at a huge advantage because they know not to be too upset by something that’s going on at one particular moment in time.
  6. Show them how to try to see things from the perspective of those who are putting pressure on other kids. Insecurity might be the motivation behind some using peer pressure to try to convince others to act or think just like them. And some who seem to be part of the larger, popular group may actually want to break free and be more independent, but are not confident enough to do so. For example, some who are constantly on social media sites like Instagram or Snapchat might secretly feel pressured to keep up, and may want to quit but don’t for fear of not fitting in.
  7. Teach them the power of self-confidence. Remind your child about the importance of believing in oneself and having the courage to follow one’s own personal beliefs and likes and dislikes, even if that means not always following what the majority of others are saying or doing. (from http://www.verywellfamily.com/help-young-kids-resist-peer-pressure)

As a parent you are your child’s first teacher and most significant role model.  Model the behaviors you want your child to develop:)

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