Peer pressure is very common among pre-teenagers. Peer pressure may cause your child to do something that he does not like or knows he should not do under the influence of his friends or peers. Peer pressure tends to become dangerous when the child who is under peer pressure and the influencing child(ren) have a different set of values.
Remember that not all peer pressure is bad. Encourage your child to adopt positive influences from peers such as pressure from a friend to study better or join in an extra-curricular activity in school. As a parent, you must help your pre-teenager to identify and choose between positive and negative peer pressures.
Often your child will be trying to build social skills and friendships during his pre-teen years. So this is the right time to talk to him about the pressures of preadolescence. It is a good idea to have such discussions often. This helps the pre-teenager cope with peer pressure more easily. Ability to listen to one's own thoughts helps to tackle peer pressure.
15 tips to help your pre-teenager deal with peer pressure
- Speak to your child about your family values. Also talk to him about the ways to respect those values.
- Help your child identify what kind of person he would like to be.
- Encourage your child to make decisions and accept responsibility for his decisions. A simple way to do this is to give him a couple of choices. Ask him to choose one option. For example, you can ask your child to choose between chocolate milk and plain milk. You must help them understand how making a wise choice can greatly benefit him. However, in some cases you may be forced to take a decision for him if you feel that he is too young to take one for himself.
- Talk to your pre-teenager about the characteristics they like the most in their friends. Discuss with him about adopting those traits for himself.
- Teach him to think for himself. To do this, you can ask him questions which make him think of a solution before he does something. You can try this approach instead of telling him what to do.
- Train your pre-teenager to have self confidence in himself.
- Teach him how to refuse cigarettes, drugs and the like offered by a friend.
- You may consider doing a role-play to make your child comfortable in doing this. Remind your child that he should never do a wrong thing just to make a friend or to keep one.
- Teach your pre-teenager to treat people (especially elders) with respect and kindness, irrespective of his peer's attitude towards them.
- Let him know that it is okay to avoid people who pressurize him to do things that he does not like. Being "rude" once in a way is not bad.
- Discuss with your child the instances where his family values are likely to be different from that of his friend. Also ask him if a peer has challenged your child's family values. Encourage him to discuss how he would act in such situations.
- Pay careful attention to your child's behaviour and mannerisms. Watch out for any change from your family values and help your child to correct them as early as possible.
- Take that extra effort and get to know your child's friends and their parents. You can consider having a small get-together to go about this.
- Knowing your child's friends helps you prepare for any change in your child. Also, do remember to let your pre-teenager know when you approve of his friends.
- Give your child examples of how you encountered peer pressure and the ways you dealt with them.
- Sometimes your child is reluctant to say "No" for fear of losing a friend although he does not want to join the friend for an activity. In the initial days, you can tell him to use you as a scape-goat. You can tell him to say "My mother would be upset if I did that." But you must slowly encourage him to speak for himself.
- Assure your pre-teenager that you are always available when he wants to have a discussion with you.