22 Mar Talking to Your Child About Peer Pressure
As parents, we are not blind to the fact that we are not the only important people in the lives of our kids. They are becoming their own person, and, in time, they should be given the freedom to make their own choices.
Coming to Terms with Peer Pressure
All that said, however, we, as parents, still worry. Peer pressure is a powerful force that can sometimes shape a person’s life, for the worst. We know, because we’ve been there; we’ve seen how it works, and we have personally experienced it.
Parents need to come to terms with peer pressure, so that we can help our children manage it well. Here are a few key things we need to remember about peer pressure:
It Has Several Forms
According to a professor of psychology at Florida Atlantic University there are at least two types of peer pressure: implicit and explicit. Explicit refers to the dynamics that result from external sources, while implicit peer pressure is the internalization that children take away from the dynamics. Take for instance, a child who goes to school on his first day sporting a hair style that is very different from that of his or her peers. After a few days at the school, the child tells his or her parents that they would like to go the salon. This could be influenced by the possibility of the odd hair style is being made fun of by the other students (explicit peer pressure), or the child’s own desire to fit in and be just like everybody else (implicit pressure).
It Influences Brain Development in Teens
A study by researchers at Temple University found that peer pressure influences the parts of the brain that are involved in risk and reward. In other words, adolescents are more likely to engage in risky behavior if they are with friends, compared to if they were on their own.
Our Children will be Exposed to Peer Pressure
There is no way to protect our children from it, short of isolating them from the world. We have to be able to accept that we need to let them forge their own way. The prospect seems scary, but this freedom is critical to the growth of our children.
How do you prepare your child to deal with peer pressure at school?
- Establish Good Communication
Constant, open, and honest communication with our children are the forces that shape them. It’s important that we let our children know that they can come to us for anything, without the fear of being scolded or reprimanded. There is no need to be a helicopter parent or to feel the need to observe your child’s every social move. The key is to regularly speak with your children and ask them how they are doing. Be aware of any noticeable changes and gauge if their behavior appears different form their normal actions.
- Instill Good Values
Values drive our lives. They tell us what is right or wrong and when we are not walking a valued path, we act in ways that we are not always proud of. By establishing family values, you are setting a strong foundation for how we believe our children should act in society. It’s important to implement these values in our households and to engage in them consistently.
- Be Involved
It’s more than just showing up for a game or presentation, it’s about being a constant presence that our children know that they can turn to if they need help. Knowing that they can come to you, without any fear, is important for communication, trust, and their well being.
Many of our therapists have experience counseling children and teens on how to deal with peer pressure. If your child is dealing with peer pressure and you’d like to get some help, please contact us to schedule an appointment.
Courtney specializes in children,adolescents, young adults, and families. She also has extensive experience working with clients who struggle with depression, anxiety, self-harm, self-esteem, mood disorders, eating disorders, gender-issues, grief, and complex and relational trauma. Courtney utilizes some DBT techniques for clients who require extra attention on regulating their mood, strengthening relationships, and utilizing relaxation and mindfulness techniques during moments of distress.