Peer pressure is a common issue in childhood, and it starts earlier than many parents realize. Though there are both positive and negative types of peer pressure, it's important children learn strategies to help them navigate uncomfortable or unfamiliar situations. Here are five ways to help your child handle peer pressure.
Children who are confident in who they are will have more strength to resist peer pressure, say "no," or walk away from a potentially dangerous situation. To help build your child's self-esteem, you should focus on celebrating their achievements, encouraging and praising them when they make good choices, and give your child opportunities to make choices on their own.
Encouraging your child to have their friends over to hang out, getting to know them through conversations, and getting to know their parents can show your child that you care about who they're friends with and you're willing to get to know people they care about. You should keep an open and honest conversation with your child about their friendships, and speak to their friends' parents if there are any issues or concerns that arise.
There will be times when your child wants to do something you don't want them to do. Without judgment, provide a space for your child to talk to you, validate their feelings, and encourage them to make good decisions. Sometimes they just want to be heard and know that they can talk to you about what's happening in their life. In addition, staying calm can help you talk through issues with your child and give advice when welcomed.
Whether you realize it or not, what you do, a lot of times, influences what your children do. If you practice saying no to things that make you uncomfortable or things you don't want to do while your child is present, you show them it's okay to do that themselves. Other things you can do to help them say "no" is role playing a situation where they are faced with peer pressure. Giving children the words to say or telling them options they have in those situations can help them make better choices in the moment.
Actions speak louder than words. Instead of telling your child they can come to you with anything, show them you mean it. If they ask you for a minute of your time to talk, offer up your time. Listen with intention. Ask questions to show you're invested. Invite them to share things with you. Be careful not to jump to conclusions, invalidate their feelings, or judge them.
Teaching your child how to handle peer pressure can be difficult. With the right strategies and intentions, you can ensure your child feels comfortable and empowered enough to say "no" and make wiser choices. Read Wellspring's Blog for more preventative parenting tips on how to ensure your child is equipped to handle the challenges of growing up.