5 Tips For Helping Your Children Overcome Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is something all kids face at one point or another. We know the statistics – our kids are more likely to bully, act out, experiment with things like drugs and alcohol and indulge in self-harm behaviors like eating disorders because of the influence of classmates and peers. The older your child gets, the more dangerous peer pressure becomes. At the same time, it often seems like we have less and less power as parents to protect our kids from other kids. We want to raise strong kids who will arise above that pressure, but how can we really ensure that will happen? How do we teach our kids to be leaders and not followers? To turn to us for guidance instead of getting swayed by the lure of popularity and social standing?

Here are five tips for helping your children overcome peer pressure:

  1. Keep the lines of communication open.

The more you talk to your child, the more you’ll understand what pressures he or she is facing and what is going on at school and outside the home. If our children feel they can turn to us in times of need, they are less likely to turn to other sources. Encourage your child to talk about his or her day on a regular basis. You don’t need to know everything, particularly as your child gets older, but assert yourself as someone willing to listen without judgment. Talk through situations that may not involve your child specifically and point out ways to avoid situations where temptations will be more difficult to avoid.

  1. Teach your child self-confidence.

This is huge and begins from an extremely early age. Instilling confidence in your child will set him or her up for the rest of life. How do you do this? First, make sure you are emphasizing positive body image. This means not criticizing your child’s eating habits or making comments about weight. This also means not making comments about your own weight or emphasizing appearances over what is really important. Compliments and praise should be handed out frequently – when the situation warrants it, of course. Celebrate your child’s uniqueness in every way. Show your pride and teach your child to feel pride for accomplishments and a job well done.

  1. Reinforce positive values.

Make sure your children know where you stand on important issues. Point out instances of honesty, standing up for someone getting picked on and choosing the path less taken. As parents, it’s our job to model the type of behavior we expect. Set clear and strict rules when it comes to things like drugs and alcohol, and most importantly, explain your reasoning for those rules.

  1. Monitor your child’s friends.

This doesn’t mean spy on your children or take away all their privacy, but you should feel comfortable around your children’s friends and their parents. Encourage socializing at your house. Leave them alone to have their time, but also keep a watchful eye on the types of behavior and language that is used. Don’t tear your children’s peers down, but if you see behavior you don’t like, it’s a good idea to discuss this with your children in a non-threatening way. If the behavior is truly harmful, then of course, you can take the necessary precautions to limit your child’s interaction with that person.

  1. Encourage your child to get involved.

This goes back to self-confidence, but the more involved and part of the community someone is, the less that person will feel the need to take extra steps to fit in. Don’t force your child to engage in clubs and sports if he or she isn’t interested, but stress the importance of being involved in something or finding a hobby that is fulfilling and then being proud of that activity or hobby. Being a part of a team can do wonders for a child’s self-esteem. A sense of belonging truly helps children overcome peer pressure from other sources.

Do you have any other tips? I’d love to hear!

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