Although peer pressure is a typical part of growing up, it can be difficult to deal with for both kids and parents. Technological advances have allowed children to have access to friends that they may never see. Couple that with people from school or kids in the neighborhood and peer pressure can come from more than one direction in a child’s life. Fortunately, even though the avenues of peer pressure are new, there are still some very effective ways to teach kids about peer pressure and to help them cope with it.
As kids get older, they tend to rely on their peers for information. Therefore parents must not only be the source of information, but also be the support system for their kids. This means that parents have to be proactive in educating them about what peer pressure really is. Edwin A. Locke, psychologist and author, suggests that parents teach about peer pressure through teaching moral values. One of the most important values is independence. Peer pressure is fundamentally based on following someone else. If a child learns that being independent is important then it can help deter them from following the crowd. Moral values also help kids make rational and good decisions. If they are being pressured to do something wrong, then they can use their moral values to help them make the right decisions and avoid pressures from their peers.
Jonathan Nadlman, psychotherapist, says that parents have to be willing to argue with their kids about why they shouldn’t follow the crowd. They can give valid reasons as to why their child cannot do all the things that other kids their age are doing. Having these types of conversations with children can give them the skills they need to stand up against peer pressure. Nadlman also notes that parents have to be able to let their child try new things if they give valid reasons and show that they are responsible enough to tackle a new area in life. Vanessa Van Petten, youthologist and author of You're Grounded, tells parents the importance of making certain that their child has a group of friends that they can rely on during tough times. These friends can help during times when peer pressure comes from online sources or others at school. Having your child involved in something that they are passionate about, such as an extracurricular activity, can also combat peer pressure as it helps kids build self-esteem and helps foster feelings of accomplishment.