Teaching Kids to Deal with Peer Pressure

Written By: Mary M. Alward
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Parents usually become very concerned when they hear the term "peer pressure." However, peer pressure can be both negative and positive and children need to learn how to deal with negative peer pressure to avoid trouble and embrace positive peer pressure in order to grow.

Negative peer pressure can begin when children are still toddlers. It isn't uncommon for two-year-olds to apply peer pressure in order to get their way. As your child grows, peer pressure continues and intensifies during the adolescent and teen years.

When children move from elementary to middle school and during their first year of high school and college, peer pressure is the most intense of anytime in their lives. The kids are the youngest in their schools during these years, don't know their way around and desperately want to fit in. Research has proven that 87% of American teens face a daily regime of negative peer pressure. The most common peer pressure issues are:

Alcohol consumption.

Cheating at school.

Driving fast or under the influence.

Drug use.

Fighting and bullying.

Lying.

Staying out past curfew.

Skipping classes.

Vandalism.

Teens admit it's hard to say no to their friends, older siblings or a special member of the opposite sex. These people pressure kids to take part in activities that they know are wrong and are often blackmailed in some way if they won't go along with the plan.

The youth of today are growing up faster than the generation before them. They are pressured to make difficult decision at a much younger age. Media focuses on sex and violence, which makes them far older than their years. Communities do not support the neighborhood as they did with previous generations, when everyone looked out for and corrected each other's children without fear of being sued. Often if a neighbor had to chastise a child, he was severely punished when his parents found out. At that time extended families often helped out when parents weren't home. Today, extended families live far apart; leaving a lack of support that was once a valuable source to children and teens.

Microwave ovens have made the evening meal a thing of the past. This is when families communicated in a positive way. Today's technology separates the family unit that once gathered around the radio or a single TV for an evening of entertainment. Parents work longer hours than previous generations and kids are often left on their own for long periods of time. When parents do finally arrive home, they are too exhausted to listen to their kids' problems or to be deeply involved in their children's lives. Children pass the time they spend out of their parent's care playing with friends, playing violent video games or watching inappropriate TV shows. Moral values are changing and it's not for the better. We need to bring back the family unit in order to prevent our kids from having to cope with an extreme amount of peer pressure.

How Parents Can Help

Try to have a meal in the evening with the entire family present. Don't allow the telephone or the TV to interrupt the meal. Keep conversation positive.

Schedule a family meeting every weekend and insist that everyone attend. If it is at the same time each week, there is no excuse for absences. This is the time when each person can talk about any problems they've encountered during the week. Family members can brainstorm to help each other solve problems.

Limit both your own TV time and that of your children. Monitor the shows that they watch to ensure they are age and subject appropriate, as well as entertaining and educational. This prevents the child's mind from becoming boggled down with junk. Set rules to define quality and quantity of TV viewing and stick to your guns.

Meet the parents of your children's friends and get to know them. Discuss expectations of behavior and insist that they are followed when the children are together.

Don't get your kids everything he asks for. He must learn the reality of life if he is to learn to cope in the world.

Never install a telephone, TV or computer in your child's room. Your child should be actively involved with other family members during his pre-teen and teenage years.

Peer Pressure Reversal

Peer Pressure Reversal teaches kids to:

Reverse the onus to their challenger.

Check out the scenario.

Make good decisions.

Avoid trouble.

Children must be made to realize that most of the time peer pressure is very subtle. They must be taught to look at situations for a logical point of view and not with emotions. They must learn what to do and say when their peers are pressuring them to do something that they know is wrong and still remain in their comfort zone. Kids need to do more than walk away after saying no to peer pressure. They can be taught to:

Use flattery to throw the challenger off the track.

Give a true reason why they won't participate in something they know is wrong.

Joke their way out of tough situations.

Return a challenge when dared to do something wrong.

Suggest a better idea that is fun and challenging, but not against the rules.

These helpful techniques can be taught through role playing and creating hypothetical situations, which children must respond to. Role-playing should be age appropriate and in a social context that they can relate to. This will enable them to avoid peer pressure and say out of trouble while retaining friendships that they feel are valuable. This in return can create positive peer pressure on their friends and everyone can learn something about life from both situations.

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