Influence is a powerful thing. As a parent, it can also be a nerve-wracking aspect of raising your child. Thoughts of peer pressure and adolescent impulsiveness can weigh heavily on your mind as you watch your child grow more independent and respond to influences you no longer control.
Hormones and peer relationships are a heady mix that can cloud clear thinking and wise decision making. Is there a way to help your child see peer pressure coming and want to resist?
Sure there is! Don’t underestimate your influence!
Peer pressure and social concerns need not supercede your protection or diminish your child’s ability to use self-control. Be sure your influence is applied early, routinely, and strategically.
1. Communicate a sense of belonging and acceptance.
Let your child know that he or she is part of a system where everyone is seen and known. Provide steady support, reliable standards, and loving relief from the peer pressure. Your child will appreciate and value a home filled with safety and care.
It will be very important to keep an open mind to ensure open communication. To maintain a healthy amount of influence and remain abreast of any peer pressure your child is facing, refrain from assumptions and quick conclusions. Kids make mistakes. Consider those moments to be more chances to show unconditional love, compassion, and gentle correction.
2. Validate and encourage often.
Be verbal and sincere. Say in lots of little ways, “you are valued,” “I like you,” and “you are wanted.” This provides a good foundation for your child’s sense of self and solidifies the idea that there is a lot about him or her that is important and appreciated. A good seed to plant as the opinions of others start to mean more.
Demonstrating that you are paying attention to your child’s interests and activities helps you stay in tune to them and their groups of friends while giving your child a sense that his or her behavior and success matters to you. Something you’ll want to come to mind when peer pressure comes calling.
3. Simulate scenarios and responses.
Try to prep your child for the eventuality of social pressure. Awareness and a plan makes dealing with peers more manageable. He or she will feel empowered knowing that he or she has actually spent time thinking through his or her response.
Visualize peer pressure possibilities. The chances of your child being strong-armed into risky behavior is slim. Social pressure is more subtle. Help Your child think about what it really feels like to go against the crowd. Role-playing is strategizing.
4. Educate through awareness.
Long before friends and temptation make the scene, teach your child to look ahead and look internally. The gifts of forethought and introspection will serve him or her again and again.
Be sure to point out wise choices and make consequences plain. Allow him or her to make informed decisions–right or wrong. Letting kids make mistakes and accept responsibility, under your guidance, will teach them important lessons when they navigate the world without you.
5. Accentuate the positive.
Show your child the difference between negative and positive peer pressure. Let your child know that you’re all for supportive, healthy, appropriate activities or peer groups. Remind him or her that relationships enhance the core values and strengths that are unique to him or her. Peers that do that are a good thing.
Parents can’t be there for every peer pressure pitfall that comes their child’s way.
Instead, focus your parenting efforts on loving, valuing, and guiding your child intentionally.
A connected kid with critical thinking skills and parents whose trust they want to keep, has the best armor against the world outside your door.