Dealing with peer pressure

Peer pressure usually occurs when a person is manipulated by others, especially friends, to do things he/she wouldn’t necessarily want to do. Peer pressure is sometimes so subtle, we are not even aware of it!

Peer pressure can be positive and negative. Friends can have a bad influence on a child, but good friends can also influence a child positively.

Negative peer pressure

Negative peer pressure can be described as any (usually unacceptable) behaviour forced onto someone. The child copying the negative behaviour usually does this with the hope of being accepted into the peer group. Even young children give in to peer pressure. You might have heard your child say: “But everyone at school has this toy, I also have to have it.” This also applies to brand-named clothes and shoes. Negative peer pressure can also be linked to programmes children watch on TV or games they play, although it is not suitable for them.

Peer pressure doesn’t occur once your child enters High School, it starts much sooner. Parents usually start making children aware of peer pressure when the first incidences of peer pressure arise, such as when a group of children is caught using alcohol or cigarettes.
Start preparing your child on an early age to deal with peer pressure. Here are a few tips on how to help your child not to give in to peer pressure.

  • Be a good example for your children by not giving in to peer pressure yourself!
  • Have a healthy relationship with your children so that they will be able to talk to you should they find themselves in a bad situation with friends.
  • Children need boundaries. Explain to them why you set certain rules and why you will not buy all the toys they want, let them watch certain programmes on TV or allow them to play certain games on the computer or tablet.
  • Teach your child values.
  • Emphasise your child’s positive attributes. By doing this you will build your child’s self-esteem and self-proud.
  • Teach your child that what friends say and do is not necessarily most important. They need to be able to determine what is important and what is not.
  • Teach your child to avoid friends who don’t accept them for who they are, friends who don’t accept it when they say ‘no’ or friends who don’t have a positive influence in your child’s life.
  • Teach your child - if something doesn’t feel right, it is likely to be no good. Rather say ‘no’ and turn away from it.
  • Help your child to have a balanced life, socially and academically.

Positive peer pressure

The same as children can have a negative effect on other children; they can also have a positive effect on behaviour and support one another. Children are easily influenced by others, thus it is important to have the right friends who share the same values as you. Here are a few examples how peer pressure can be positive:

  • Children see when another child’s behaviour and manners are rewarded. Most (especially young) children will copy that behaviour to be rewarded as well.
  • A child is more likely to pay attention to his/her schoolwork when the friends do the same.
  • When friends take part in sport and activities, the child will be motivated to take part in a sport or activity to belong to the team and to experience the team-spirit.
  • Children learn to share when friends also share with them.

If you want your child to be exposed to positive rather than negative peer pressure, make sure you know your child’s friends. Good friendships are priceless.

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