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Peer Pressure
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Helping Your Child Combat Peer Pressure

We've all dealt with peer pressure in the past, and we may even be battling it today. We're constantly doing things we don't necessary want to do but we do anyways just to make someone else happy. It's hard to break free from the peer-pressure cycle, and that's why it's important to teach tweens and teens coping methods to help them combat peer pressure. The last thing any parent wants is for a child to do something that they know is wrong just to please someone else

When to Address Peer Pressure?

As a parent, you should prepare for peer pressure as soon as your child enters elementary school. Peer pressure may worsen once your child enters middle school and high school. Kids feel the need to fit in with the "older crowd" and may resort to drugs, smoking, drinking, skipping class, and a variety of other things just to be considered 'one of the gang.' To help your child make wise decisions in the face of peer pressure, try these parenting tips:

  • Initiate a conversation. Be the first to bring up peer pressure and the tough decisions your teen may be faced with. Be proactive about this conversation; don't wait until an issue arises.
  • Remind your child of family values. Each family has their own particular set of values and morals, and enforcing these helps you create a strong family foundation. Address the way the family feels about certain social pressures like smoking and drinking, "Our family doesn't participate in or tolerate the act of smoking."
  • Role play. Let your child bounce ideas off of you and give her suggestions as well. Go over ways to avoid a peer pressure situation or what she can say if she's ever in one. You don't need to be longwinded or over-explain your answer, something simple such as, "Smoking just isn't my thing" is a direct and confident answer.
  • Let her play the blame game. Allow your child to use you as an excuse, "I can't skip class because, if my mom finds out, I'll be grounded and won't be able to hang out for at least a month." This sets up the expectation so the person who's doing the pressuring knows not to ask your child to skip anymore because this particular excuse will always be relevant.

Anticipate the fact that your child will experience peer pressure as she continues to grow up. If you provide her with knowledge beforehand, diffusing the situation will be that much easier. Make sure you don't jump to conclusions or heavily reprimand your child because you'll run the risk of losing the foundation of communication you worked so hard to build.