As parents, we often fear our children falling to negative narratives of modern world. Our desire to choose the best education for children keeps on growing with intense competition in academics. We tend to compare our choices with our peers. The peer pressure for children is the same. Except for the fact that they are more naïve than we are as grownups. The private school culture does add up to the problem as children from various backgrounds display different cultures and practices. Many parents are not aware of how to deal with this peer pressure effectively. This article presents guidelines by psychological experts for parents to help their child deal with peer pressure in an effective way. This can be done without causing a dent in their relationship, personality or emotional state.
Why do children give in to Peer Pressure?
As with any other emotional issue, peer pressure and its influence on child needs thorough analysis. It is important to first understand factors that cause children to give in to peer pressure. Some of the factors highlighted by experts include the following:
Lack of confidence in children is often cited as the most common reason for giving in to peer pressure. If the child is not provided with adequate confidence and recognition at home, he will search for that acknowledgment from peers. For instance, a child who is often criticized for his actions, looks or behavior at home, instead of proper counseling will give in to peer pressure to become likeable among friends.
- Lack of communication by parents regarding accepted norms, beliefs and expectations can confuse a child when presented with different choices. For instance, instilling gratitude in a child for every blessing in life makes them more content in future life. Children who are not spoiled in their early years can appreciate what they have in later life. Such children are less inclined to insist on every new gadget or lavish parties like their friends.
- Unable to understand how to get out of tough situations or say no is again an issue of lack of parental guide and communication. Many parents are too busy with jobs or house chores to pay attention to children’ emotional needs. They often leave their children mum about issues that they are facing at school. Unnecessary or untimely reprimands by parents also makes children lose the ability to deal with difficult or confusing situations. This ultimately leads them to take an easy way out and follow their peers for appeasement.
Read More: How to boost Confidence in children?
How can parents help children deal with Peer Pressure?
There are numerous ways in which parents can prepare their children for dealing effectively with peer pressure. The key is to first understand that peer pressure is not unique to children alone. We, as adults, deal with peer pressure at all times. It can be comparison among mothers for designer clothes or fitness, competition among parents for best school for their children or even at jobs and other social circles. Parents should first empathize with their children for difficulty they can face and then prepare them with open mind. Some of the key steps to prepare kids for peer pressure include the following:
- Adjust your parenting style from traditional provision supplier to emotional and physical caregivers of your child. Parents should not limit their responsibilities to food, clothing and education, They should spend time with children and be there for guidance and love. Effective parenting involves communicating with them from the start, empathizing with them without spoiling and noticing their behavioral development. Parents who have open communication channels with children are mostly the first to hear about unusual activities around children.
- Avoid unnecessary criticism, sarcasm while appreciating their good behavior to boost self-esteem and confidence of your child. When children are more confident about themselves, they are more prepared to understand the differences in them and their peers. This, in turn, increases their confidence to say no when necessary.
- Talk to your child about various changes in their surroundings as they grow up. For instance, a preschooler can be taught about how it is not okay to hurt someone or shout at teachers. On the other hand, a primary or middle school child can be taught about how boys or girls in their class might start talking about things that are not suitable for their age. Explain how your child can avoid that. Similarly, as they grow up, you can communicate about more adult stuff. This can include private parts, unsafe use of social media and phones, smoking etc.
- Make them understand the difference between good peer pressure and bad peer pressure. Explain how it is totally okay to say no to things that they find unsuitable or inappropriate. Also reassure them how you are cool with discussing anything that is bothering them at school or anywhere else and that they can always come to you for advice. More importantly, when they do, DO NOT PANIC or react noticeably.
- Teach them about independence and significance of having own personality. Discuss with them how their individuality is an asset while following a crowd will only make them submissive to trivial things in future. Engage in meaningful examples to develop their interest in finding their own self and becoming comfortable with it.
- Make yourself available for them in meaningful sense every day, even if for limited time, to allow them to discuss every minor or major details of any kind of pressure they felt from their peers.
Understand that positive Peer Pressure also exists
Peer pressure is often taken in only negative sense where parents believe that their children will start demanding for expensive devices, clothes, stealing, unnecessary hangouts and even graver habits like smoking, parties and ill-perceived outlooks. However, peer pressure can be both negative and positive. Your child’s friends may want him/her to engage more in extracurricular activities at school or participate in educational activities like debates or science fair that your child is hesitant to. Such pressure can be extremely helpful in overcoming laziness and shyness in your child or help him build up on his existing skills.
Similarly, if your child’s peers are extremely well behaved and display attributes of being helpful or accommodating to other fellows and encourage your child to do same, it is another example of good peer pressure. Good peer pressure is also often observed when some children stand up to bullies or straight up refuse to be part of any unacceptable activity, they are putting a positive peer pressure on your child to display same behavior. Learn to show appreciation for such behavior when your child shares such instances with you. Understanding the difference between good and bad peer pressure and teaching your children this difference will create a huge impact on their personality and emotional development.