Children are bound to encounter peer pressure in one form or another. The teenage years can be particularly pressure-filled.
But not all peer pressure is bad. Perhaps your teenage son, for example, is placed in an accelerated learning environment and is surrounded by kids who want to do well in school. Not wanting to look bad in front of his scholarly friends, your child decides to buckle down and hit the books.
Unfortunately, positive peer pressure is far less common than negative peer pressure. If you know what peer pressure is and can distinguish between positive and negative peer pressure, you're on the right track. But how do you help your teenager deal with it? The first step in answering this question is understanding what causes teens to succumb to negative peer pressure.
Combat low self-esteem. Teens are more likely to succumb to negative peer pressure because they want to be accepted by their peers, according to Kidshealth.org, a website dedicated to helping children develop good physical and mental health. They need to be accepted by their peers because they are still developing an identity and are unsure about their place in the world. The main culprit is a lack of self-esteem. It’s important to teach children, especially at a young age, their worth. A child who feels love at home and who understands his or her place in the world has little need to find acceptance through self-destructive behavior.
In addition to teaching your child self-worth, these suggestions from By Parents for Parents will help your teen handle peer pressure:
Communicate. Part of dealing with peer pressure is acknowledging that it exists and discussing it with your teen. Ignoring the proliferation of alcohol, sex and drugs will not make the problem go away. When a teen is faced with these temptations, he or she will be more likely to discuss them with you if the lines of communication are open.
Establish clear consequences for misbehavior. Even the best parents will have teens who break rules. Establishing clear consequences and following through on them will make a teen think twice before giving in. It can be especially effective if you sit down with your teen and discuss appropriate consequences before any rule is broken.
Encourage positive friendships. This doesn’t mean attack or criticize your child’s current friends. If you feel your son or daughter, however, could use more positive peer influences, suggest that he or she participate in activities, clubs or organizations where it's likely that other positive teens will be gathering.
Peer pressure isn’t going away, but these tips will help your child deal with it in a positive manner.