Simple Ways To Help Your Child Deal With Peer Pressure


Peer pressure, the urge to conform to peers' actions and opinions for acceptance, commonly affects children and teens, impacting their development significantly. In today's interconnected world, it plays a pivotal role in their lives. It stems from various sources like friendship groups, classmates, or siblings, shaping their sense of belonging. As a parent, helping children navigate these emotions is crucial. In this article, Connector, with various experts, suggests simple ways to support your child in handling peer pressure effectively.

Help Your Kids Understand The Importance Of Saying No

While saying 'no' might seem impolite, it's essential for everyone, including children, to learn its significance. Parents play a crucial role in teaching kids to assertively say 'no' when needed. Children should learn that it's acceptable to decline and not always conform to please others. 

Sharing her take on this Joanna Brandariz, Key Stage 3 Progress Leader and Teacher of Dance and PE, Horizon International School, says, "Parents can empower children by role-playing assertive responses to peer pressure, encouraging confident refusals and proposing alternative activities. Help them understand that saying 'no' may lead to short-term discomfort but can prevent long-term regret and support their values and boundaries." 

Adding to this Nicola Hamer, Appointed Head of Secondary Academic Year 2024-25, The English College Dubai says, "One strategy parents could try is to role-play different scenarios with your child. This helps them practise saying 'no' confidently in a safe environment. It also helps to engage in open conversations at home about peer pressure and remind your child that it's okay to make their own choices, even if it's not what everyone else is doing."

Boost Your Child's Confidence: Remind Them They're Perfect as They Are

Peer pressure often emerges when children compare themselves to others and feel judged based on their appearance, performance in sports or academics, and more. While you can't control other children's behaviour, as a parent, you can instil a sense of security in your child and empower them to embrace their uniqueness. Foster self-confidence by teaching them that it's okay to be different and that everyone has their strengths.

"The best way to empower your child is to celebrate them as they are now. Encourage their hobbies and interests, and recognise and praise their achievements and efforts. Another way to build their confidence and independence is to involve them in family decisions, helping them understand that their opinion matters and that they are an integral part of the family," suggests Eloise Briey, Senior Marketing Executive, Swiss International School. 

Educate Your Children About Peer Pressure 

Often, children may not realise they're behaving differently due to peer pressure. As a parent, it's crucial to educate them about peer pressure so they're aware of their actions. Teach kids to recognise peer pressure and how to respond effectively in such situations. Nicola Hamer from The English College Dubaiadds, "It's good to help your child understand that peer pressure often occurs because people want to fit in, be liked by their friends, or avoid being teased or excluded. Teach them the importance of listening to their feelings and values, and remind them that it's okay to say 'no' if something doesn't feel right."

"You can teach your children to recognise various forms of peer pressure, from subtle persuasion to coercion. Encourage them to stand up for themselves if it aligns with their moral beliefs," suggests Joanna Brandariz at Horizon International School. 

Pay Attention To Your Child's Mood 

To support your children in handling peer pressure, it's crucial to monitor their mood and engage in daily conversations about school and life. "Sudden behavioural shifts such as withdrawal or mood swings may signal negative peer influence. Consistent, honest dialogues enable you to remain connected to your child's emotional health, promoting confidence and self-esteem," explains Joanna Brandariz at Horizon International School.

Shedding light on this and suggesting some signs to look out for, Eloise Briey from Swiss International School adds, "Signs to look out for include sudden changes in behaviour or attitude, a sudden loss of interest in hobbies, passions, or studies, and increased secrecy about their daily activities. However, these can also be symptoms of other issues, so the best way to know for certain is to have conversations with your child or their teacher." 

Instil Open Communication

The most effective approach to assist your child in managing peer pressure is by fostering open communication. Focus on building a strong connection with your child. "It's vital to create a safe and open environment. Regularly ask about their day and listen without interrupting, showing that you care about their thoughts and feelings. Be patient and calm, even when they tell you something difficult, so they know they can trust you. Share some of your experiences to show that it’s okay to talk about different things. Praise their honesty and let them know they can always come to you without fear of getting into trouble. It will help build trust and make them feel more comfortable opening up to you," suggests Nicola Hamer from The English College Dubai. 

Adding more to this, Eloise Briey from Swiss International School suggests, "Another essential element of open communication is creating a judgment-free zone: your child needs to feel that when they share, they will be met with kindness and compassion, not judgment."

Teach Your Child The Difference Between Good And Bad Friendships 

While in school or college, children naturally form friendships and have their social circles. It is their right to choose their friends, however, they may struggle to distinguish between positive and negative influences among their peers. "As a parent, teaching your child how to choose friends, what to look out for, and how to maintain friendships is helpful. Being part of a strong, healthy group of friends can keep them safe from negative peer pressure," suggests Eloise Briey from Swiss International School. 

How Can Schools Help Deal With Peer Pressure 

Parents play a crucial role in assisting their children with peer pressure, but schools also have a significant responsibility in this regard.

Nicola Hamer from The English College Dubai, adds, "Offering counselling services where students can discuss their concerns and receive support and guidance is a good way to help kids. Besides this, fostering a positive and inclusive environment where differences are celebrated, and bullying is not tolerated also helps with peer pressure. 

Meanwhile, Joanna Brandariz at Horizon International School, says, "Schools are also vital in addressing peer pressure through programs on social-emotional learning and conflict resolution. It is vital to also ensure that students have avenues to seek support from trusted adults. By equipping children with effective peer pressure navigation skills and fostering collaboration between parents and schools, teachers empower kids to make confident choices."

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