5 solutions to help your child handle peer pressure

Many parents ask me, “How can I help my child not fall under peer pressure and develop wrong habits?” I ask a question in return, “How about you? Where and when do YOU fall under peer pressure and develop wrong habits?”

I have seen that when we turn the mirror towards ourselves, the solutions become apparent to us.

What is peer pressure?

It is the ‘pressure’ that is overtly or covertly exerted upon a person, by the group they ‘belong’ to, to conform to the practices that the group follows. It happens amongst siblings, larger family, friends, classmates, icons, and society at large.

Why do we come under peer pressure?

We (and our precious children) come under pressure to conform for various reasons; simply because:

1. We want desperately to ‘belong’ to that group.

2. We care for our friends.

3. We are concerned about our spoken reputation and want to be known as ‘hip’ ‘with it’ ‘sport’ etc. Who wants to be labeled as a ‘spoil-sport’ or ‘so yesterday’?

help kids facing peer pressure- Parenting resources by ZenParent

4. We care for our emotional strength, which comes from the peer group.

5. Following others is far easier than defying others.

6. Merging into the group takes less courage than standing out – like a sore thumb.

7. We don’t really know what is right or wrong for us. If it is right for the group, it must be right for us too – so goes the thinking.

8. Our self-confidence truly sucks.

9. We need positive strokes from the group.

10. We want to defy our elders’ moral dictates.

kids and adults face peer pressure and that should be corrected immediately- Parenting resources by ZenParent

What is the solution?

a.  Examine the areas of concern where children may feel the unseen “pressure” or are forced into doing something that their conscience doesn’t allow. Because they are kids, they may not be able to express their discomfort in doing something that’s not right or good for them but they will surely get a sense that something is wrong.

b.  Discuss it openly with the child and ask for the child’s opinion. The problem that comes here is that we, as parents, lack the courage to directly deal with our own children. And it happens because we ourselves are doing a lot of stuff that is not right in our own eyes or in our elders’ eyes. As long as we are under our own ‘peer pressure’, it is difficult for us to have a direct conversation with our children about it.

peer pressure on children should be calmly dealt with- Parenting resources by ZenParent

c.  Set age-appropriate boundaries for your children – and for yourself. Let the children know that everyone, at every age, and at every stage, ought to remain within certain boundaries of conduct and safety. Freedom doesn’t mean that you can do whatever you feel like doing. Freedom comes with a lot of self-responsibility. And setting boundaries for ourselves helps us now – as well as in the long run. In Nature, even a tree has its physical boundary, even the king of the jungle – The Big Cat –hunts within its territory/ boundary, and birds too fly around within their habitat. In the case of human beings, our homes create one kind of boundary, the culture creates another kind – and both must be respected. However, boundaries are not there to confine us – that’s why they must keep expanding as we grow. But there would always remain some boundary within which we can express our freedom. This is something like Destiny and Free Will. Destiny is the boundary and Free Will is the freedom to think/act within the boundary of destiny.

d.  Encourage clarity of thought through introspective questions. And let the children help you in formulating their (and also your) boundaries. Their involvement will ensure compliance – on both sides.

e.  Also remember that peer pressure is not always negative. In fact, it can be used very constructively (in your own life as an example first) to inculcate healthy and enriching habits.

there can be positive peer pressure on children too- Parenting resources by ZenParent

Be willing to grow together with your children. Raise yourself while raising them.

To read more about how a child experiences different emotions, click here.

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