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How to teach your child to resist peer pressure

At some point in our lives, we all experience peer pressure. The desire to be accepted by our social group is a powerful motivator and, even if you don’t realise it, your peers will influence you in certain ways, just by spending time with you.

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If you associate with the right sort of people, they may be a positive influence on you. For instance, they might be hard working or ambitious, which can encourage you to be the same way. However, sometimes peer pressure can lead to unsuitable or risky behaviour.

With this in mind, it’s important for parents to teach their children about peer pressure and how to deal with it before it becomes an issue. I have teamed up with a sixth form in Lincolnshire to share some advice on how to deal with peer pressure.

Peer pressure – talk about it

Your child won’t know how to avoid peer pressure if they don’t know what it is. Talk about it with them and share some common situations that may arise for their age group. For instance, they may be encouraged to bunk off school or to try alcohol or cigarettes, or maybe even drugs. Talk about what consequences would be involved if your child were to give in to such pressure. Help them understand the fact, like what certain drugs can do to your body. You could even share some examples of when you fell prey to peer pressure and what the outcome was to make it more personable to your child.

Teach them responses to peer pressure

It can be difficult to say no to someone who is pressuring you to do or try something. Even as adults. For children who want to fit in with the popular crowd and are still developing a sense of identity, this is even more true. With that said, try and help your child come up with suitable responses to peer pressure that don’t involve the word “no”. For instance, they could learn to come up with alternative suggestions, like “how about we do this instead?”. However, explain to them that it is perfectly okay to say no and sometimes this is the only answer, if all else fails.

Set clear rules

If your child knows what sort of behaviour you will not tolerate within your family, they will be less likely to give into peer pressure. Instil strong morals within your family unit to help everyone understand what is right and wrong. That way, when your child feels tempted to do something, they can refer to your family rules to help them make a suitable decision. Your expectations will certainly influence your child as they grow up, so make sure these are clear and non-negotiable.

Talk to your child about friendship

Ask your child what they think constitutes a true friend. One thing you should discuss when having this conversation is that a true friend will never make you do something that makes you feel uncomfortable or puts you in harms way. If they do, they’re not the sort of person you want to associate with. Make sure you meet your child’s friends to ensure they are a positive influence. And help them find ways to make new friends if you are not happy with their existing ones.

Talk to the school

If you are concerned about your child’s friendship group and the influence they are having, don’t be afraid to speak to the school. They should be able to help you come up with ways to help your child integrate with some different children who are less likely to sway them. Remember that you and your child’s teachers have the same goal, and you should always work together to support your child throughout their time at school.

How to teach your child to resist peer pressure - a little boy looking sad out of a window

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