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How can I prepare my child for dealing with peer pressure?
Get that Foundation set!
Preparing your child for peer pressure begins early on in their development, even before pre-school. It is an important part of parenting. This is not to say that it will halt peer pressure completely, but will give them a good head start for the years to come in dealing with it for themselves. Once you have helped set a good foundation in place, your worries as a parent will be greatly diminished.
What is peer pressure?
Let us identify first just exactly what peer pressure is;
Peer: a person who is equal to another in abilities, qualifications,age, background, and social status.
Peer Pressure: Pressure influenced by a group to encourage conformity by changing their values, attitudes or behaviors.
Early Stages of Peer Pressure
Before pre-school it could be something as simple as swearing or using foul language, for example; Joey and Danny have a play date and are playing in the sand box. It’s time for Joey to go home so you go get him. On the way home he begins using some colorful language that he has never used before. How you handle it as a parent will help mold his ability to fight against peer pressure. Ignoring it might teach them that it’s ‘ok’ to do that. Talking with them and explaining just ‘why ‘it is wrong will be more effective in the long run. He will justify it by saying “Danny does it” – You see, peer pressure at the beginning stages?
Recognize the words
Any time a child uses the phrase “______ (insert your child’s friends name here) does it” is an opportunity to discuss dealing with peer pressure. You don’t necessarily have to use the words ‘peer pressure’ when talking with your child. Use words that they understand.
The 'Have to Have' signs
As they get a little older you may notice other areas of peer pressure in the ‘wants’ of your child. Certain items that are desired will give you clues as to the peer pressure they may be feeling. Choosing specific items such as clothes, shoes or backpacks that are requested using words like; “I HAVE to have these!” may be noticed. Some children may claim that their teacher says these items are required. To avoid encouraging peer pressure, but still trusting in your child, stop by or call the teacher. At this time you may request a list of required items and then discuss these with your child.
When you purchase certain items for your child that is not only expensive but unnecessary, you are not only encouraging peer pressure, but could also be assisting your child in putting peer pressure on other children. It will give them the opportunity to be able to ‘show off’, in other words causing another child to suffer from peer pressure.
Do you succumb to Peer Pressure?
More important than anything in the development of a child is being able to communicate with him/her. Talk with them; ask them how their day went, ask general questions and make sure when they answer you listen. The more you talk with and listen to your child the more clues you will pick up on what they are going through. If they come to you crying, do not dismiss their tears as being unimportant. To them, this is their world this is where they live, just as you have to live with the people you work with.
Take a look at your own life, are you ‘keeping up with the Jones-es’? Every time your best friend buys something do you run out and get bigger and better? What this teaches your child is in order to feel important they have to have material items. Children have a tendency to mimic their parents in certain ways, to help your child avoid peer pressure make certain that you are not affected by it. Rather than running out to buy something better than your friend; congratulate them on their purchase, making sure that your child hears this.
Think back..... The 'good old days'
Words you might remember from childhood
Some of the phrases used to put peer pressure on a child are words such as these:
“Oh come on, everyone is doing it”
“What? Are you scared?”
“I DARE you!”
“What? Are you some sort of baby?”
In the world of a child, words hurt. Helping your child effectively deal with peer pressure very early and from the beginning will help set a good foundation for their life.
Start early - make a lasting impression
Dealing with peer pressure quickly will make their early days much easier because they won’t succumb to the influences of peer pressure. When children are under those influences they begin to have feelings of worthlessness because it’s difficult to keep up with what everyone else has.
If you are dealing with peer pressure at work, make sure that your child hears the conversation regarding this. It is important for them to understand and know that even adults have times when peer pressure is present. How well you handle this will help them in dealing with their own issues of peer pressure.
Children learn certain behaviors from their parents, always make sure you set a good example for them to follow. Getting started early will make a lasting impression that will make both your life and theirs, much easier. When you notice the good decisions that your child has made, make sure that you let them know you have seen it, and give them the compliment they deserve. Your approval is key in future decisions.