5 ways to help your child combat Peer Pressure

Help kids deal with peer pressure- Parenting resources by ZenParent
Research shows that, no matter how involved parents are in the lives of their children, it will be the peers who make the biggest impact in the child's life. Even adults struggle to resist peer pressure which is in the form of "Keeping up with the Joneses". When mature adults struggle with this, it is only normal that children are also caught in a similar situation. Children make decisions everyday based on what their peer group is doing. It could be with the group or against the group depending on how independent and strong they are. Here are a few things parents can do to prepare the child for dealing with peer pressure.Peers can be helpful1. Know your child's friends and rivals: Although you have been parroting to your child about right and wrong from when they are babies, what they actually internalize is not obvious. When faced with a tricky situation, we don't know how the child will react. Hwoever, if like-minded friends are together, then they can resist pressure from other friends who may want them to engage in unsafe practices like smoking or drinking. Therefore, it becomes critical for every parent to know their children's friends. This would help ward off issues before they arise.2. Encourage healthy activities and hobbies: An idle mind is the devils workshop. Keep kids busy with productive activities like sports, music, outdoor activities etc. Introduce them to new hobbies like cooking or photography which might catch their fancy. If you have an interesting hobby, involve them- they could take over from you . Keeping the kids busy will will pre-empt situations that might get out of control.Peer pressure can be deadly3. Set rules and be flexible: What an oxymoron ! Parents have to walk a tight rope with their children. For eg: You lay down the rule that under-age drinking is completely unacceptable. However your child should also repeatedly receive the message that if ever, they succumb to peer pressure and drink, they can always call you to pick them up and not risk driving drunk or having a drunken friend drive them home. No mistake is unpardonable in your eyes and ultimately your child is the most important thing to you is a message that needs to be consistently reinforced in your child's mind. 4. Communicate and get involved: Communication is the best way to handle anything! Talking leads to a resolution. Always stay involved in your children's life. Know their likes/dislikes, interests and let them know about your likes/dislikes too. Having a healthy relationship with your child ensures that the child will get back to you if they are having any sort of problem that they are finding hard to handle. It will give them the confidence to talk to you even if they've made a mistake or two. And as parents, you should always listen and appreciate their effort of talking to you to resolve the problem. Avoid being sarcastic or judgmental.5. Give your child the tools : If your child is facing a situation of peer pressure and he needs to stand up for himself, give him tools he can use. Tell him/her to offer alternate activities if dangerous activities are being suggested by the group. Tell him to state openly the consequences of such behaviour. Finally tell him that it is ok to choose not to be with the group and walk away. While this might be an unsettling thing that requires a lot of courage to do, explain to him that it will save him from a lot of unhappiness in the future.