Peer pressure is a natural part of growing up. As children age, their friends’ opinions will matter greatly to them.
Children and teens may appear to value the opinions of their friends over those of their family members. Don’t be alarmed by this. It is part of normal development.
Parents can help children who may be influenced by peer pressure. Your guidance still matters greatly. Communication, respect, and understanding can help you better equip your child to handle peer pressure.
Young children depend on their parents for all their needs: food, shelter, and even their identity.
Children will experience the effects of peer pressure as they develop. Asserting their own identity often means finding friends who become incredibly important to them.
Not all peer pressure is bad for children. Peer pressure can positively encourage:
Parents often worry about negative peer pressure, such as the pressure to consume alcohol or drugs at an important time in their development.
Preteens and adolescents feel immense pressure to fit into a group and conform to its standards so they will not feel left out. Peer pressure can negatively influence children to do things like:
Parents can and should anticipate that children will value their friends over them at some point in their lives. Rachel Aydt wrote an article for Parents magazine detailing how she faced talking to her children about peer pressure.
Aydt provided a more lax example. Her son was in kindergarten and wanted a new backpack because a young friend said his was boring. She mentioned that children may feel peer pressure because they do not always own certain items or know how to handle themselves in some social situations.
There are still many strategies parents can use to help their children assert their own beliefs, maintain friends, and negotiate with peer pressure during more difficult situations.
Teenagers are not yet adults. Their struggle with peer pressure may seem more difficult because they are offered choices they are not yet ready for. Adolescents also seek adventures and new experiences, making them especially susceptible to peer pressure because they want to have fun.
For teens, it can help to define their perception of things versus the reality of how things actually are. They may perceive that everyone is drinking, doing drugs, or having sex, but this isn’t actually the case. Cite specific examples, or pull up some research data to illustrate your point.
Up to 40 percent of high school-aged adolescents are still virgins by the time they graduate. Data like this can reassure them and let them know they’re not alone.
Teaching an adolescent these realities is known as the normative strategy. Adolescents may not show it, but their parents are still incredibly important to them.
Stay involved with your kids, and keep an open line of communication. You can help them better deal with peer pressure and avoid some of its negative impact.
Talking to Children About Peer Pressure. Thrive by Penn State University. from https://thrive.psu.edu/talking-to-children-about-peer-pressure/
(May 2019) How to Survive Teen Peer Pressure. Verywell Family. from https://www.verywellfamily.com/you-can-survive-teen-peer-pressure-3200906
(March 2018) Helping Kids Handle Peer Pressure. Healthlink BC. from https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/abl0972
(September 2014) 6 Ways to Teach Kids How to Deal With Peer Pressure. Learning Liftoff. from https://www.learningliftoff.com/how-to-deal-with-peer-pressure/
(May 2011) Under the Influence? Help Your Kids Resist Peer Pressure. Parents. from https://www.parents.com/kids/problems/peer-pressure/under-the-influence-help-your-kids-resist-peer-pressure/
(January 2019) How Parents Can Help Kids With Peer Pressure. Verywell Family. from https://www.verywellfamily.com/help-young-kids-resist-peer-pressure-4095020
(May 2019) What Percentage of Teens Lose Their Virginity in High School? Yahoo Lifestyle. from https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/percentage-teens-lose-virginity-high-183244080.html