Standing up to peer pressure is one of the greatest challenges that children face. Help your child deal with peer pressure by doing the following:
Strengthen bonds with your child. Your teen will be more likely to respect your views and values and better able to resist peer pressure if he or she has a good relationship with you and feels that you are a source of support. This bond needs to be nurtured long before the teenage years.
Promote your child’s self-esteem. Children who are confident and have positive self-worth are more likely to pursue friendships with children who are good role models. Boost self-esteem by helping your child find activities that capitalize on his or her strengths, praising a good effort and positive attitude as well as a strong performance.
Set a good example. Your child is a keen observer of what you do. If your daughter sees that you are constantly striving to keep up with others, don’t be surprised that she does the same with her peers. If your son sees you do what’s right, even if it’s not a popular stand with your own peers, he’ll be more likely to follow your lead.
Talk wth your child about peer pressure. Help your son understand that someone who is pressuring him to do something that may be harmful is not much of a friend. Let your daughter know that you understand how hard it can be to do things that make her stand out, but that following the crowd can have unintended results.
Avoid overreacting when talking about peer issues. You don’t want to discourage your child from talking with you about important issues.
Choose your battles with care. Make your stand on high-risk peer behavior. Battling your son constantly over minor issues may drive him toward peers who are similarly alienated from their parents. And constant “nagging” and “picking” on the little things almost ensures that your daughter won’t be listening to you when something really important is on the line.
Helping your child develop good decision-making skills. Encourage your son to think through the possible consequences of a decision, including whether it may cause harm to himself or others.
Help your child develop responses to peers. Suggest responses that are short and simple and that she can say comfortably. Try role-playing.
Get to know your child’s friends, and create a network of parents. Spend some time with them and assess whether they are positive influences.
Don’t hesitate to set limits for your child. Your willingness to say “no” sets a good example and may help give your child the courage to say “no” when faced with a potentially harmful situation.