Resisting Negative Peer Pressure

Your child is affected by peer pressure from the first time he or she plays with siblings or other children. You can't make peer pressure go away, but you can teach your child how to deal with it.

Although we often think of peer pressure as bad, it is possible for your children's friends to influence them in positive ways. Here are some ways to help your children resist negative peer pressure:

Develop a good relationship.

The stronger your relationship is with your children, the less likely they are to follow bad examples.

Teach your children to think when others try to get them to do something.

Your children should ask themselves questions like: Is it wrong? Why do they want me to do it? Is it illegal? Why am I tempted to go along? Am I afraid that they will laugh at me?

Teach your children to decide for themselves whether something is right or wrong, helpful or harmful.

Bring up examples of situations they may be in; then explore what might happen if they respond a certain way. Let them think about the consequences of their actions. If they have an uneasy feeling, something is probably wrong.

Sometimes children just need help getting away from a bad situation. Provide them with some responses they can use to resist peer pressure.

Encourage them to avoid giving an immediate "Yes" or "No" answer when friends want them to do something questionable. They can buy time to make a good decision by saying, "Maybe later," or "I'll wait and see." Let them use you as an excuse: "I will be grounded forever if I try that."

Practice situations with your children, trying various responses that they are comfortable saying.

Let them play themselves and the peer when you practice. Ask your child what gives him or her trouble when faced with a tough decision, and incorporate that in the practice. Use it to help your children build confidence in their ability to say "No."

Have your child practice the following steps to resist peer pressure:

  1. Look at the person.
  2. Use a calm voice.
  3. Say clearly that you do not want to engage in that activity.
  4. Suggest another activity. Give a reason.
  5. If the person tries to convince you, keep saying "No."
  6. Leave or ask the person to leave.