Even as adults, we sometimes struggle to stand up to peer pressure, so there’s no wonder that parents worry about their children falling in with the wrong crowd. With that said, it’s absolutely crucial that parents teach their children the various skills involved in resisting certain influences, such as confidence and independent thinking. Here’s some advice from a senior school in Bath.
First of all, if you want your child to resist peer pressure, you’ll need to teach them what it actually is. Perhaps you could share some of your own experiences of peer pressure, to make it more relatable for them. Talk to them about the differences between peer pressure and peer influence. The latter can actually be quite beneficial, like if their friends are all volunteering to help a charity, inspiring them to do something positive. The former, however, is what can be dangerous; when someone tries to convince your child to do something that makes them uncomfortable.
It’s also important to help your child understand that it’s okay to disagree with people and say no. Remind them that it’s normal to have a difference in opinion with people from time to time and being different is what makes them special. You could practise ways to disagree in a friendly manner or come up with compromises. For instance, if someone is pressuring your child to do something they don’t want to do, they could say “I’m not sure if X is safe, maybe we could do Y instead?”.
Find opportunities to talk to your child about their moral values and the difference between right and wrong. You will need to model these values if you want your child to respect and follow them too. For instance, if you value honesty, don’t say things like “Don’t tell your mum/dad I let you stay up late”, as this promote dishonesty. Once your child has established a clear set of principles, they will find it easier to know when they being pressured to do something unfavourable.