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Raising Great Grade Schoolers Issue 1 2 3 4

Tips for Teaching Kids to Deal with Peer Pressure

Parenting Through Peer Pressure

Do the words peer pressure fill you with fear? Do they make you think of your child's friends encouraging him or her to engage in wrong, dangerous, or inappropriate behavior? If they do, you're not alone. Today's children and teens experience peer pressure in a variety of ways:  positive and negative peer pressure, and personal and cultural peer pressure.

Let's identify and discuss the types of peer pressure so you and your child can recognize them and develop strategies for combatting negative pressure.

The Positive Side of Peer Pressure

Some types of peer pressure — such as pressure to do well academically — can be positive influences for your child. Just as pressure from one or more friends can influence a child to engage in wrongdoing, it also can persuade them to avoid trouble and work hard. Your child's group of friends can encourage each other to strive for excellence in areas like:

  • Trying harder in extracurricular activities
  • Getting good grades
  • Avoiding classmates who engage in negative behavior

Positive peer pressure is healthy for your child. It might come in the form of personal peer pressure, involving face-to-face contact between your child and one or more other children, or it could be cultural peer pressure from television or the internet.

As a parent, you can help your grade schooler learn to spot the difference between negative and positive peer pressure and whether it is personal or cultural, and teach them when to say "Yes" and when to walk away.

The Flip Side: Negative Peer Pressure

Negative personal peer pressure involves face-to-face contact and communication where a person or a group of people tries to convince, tease, bully, or shame another person or group of people into doing something that's against the rules, illegal, dangerous, or morally or ethically wrong.

That sounds simple enough, but children experience peer pressure in more ways than face to face; they also experience it culturally through television, the internet, and social media. Technology brings a whole new kind of impersonal, omnipresent pressure to your grade schooler. This kind of peer pressure tries to tell your child:

  • What to wear
  • What to eat and drink
  • What to watch on TV
  • How to think and act
  • When and who to date
  • How to treat the opposite sex
  • How to regard (or disregard) their parents

Today's parents are faced with a tough challenge: How to maintain your influence in your child's life and teach them to resist negative personal and cultural peer pressure messages.

Use the SODAS Method

In addition to spending time with your grade schooler and actively listening when they want to talk, you can teach your child the SODAS method, a process that can help your child solve problems, think more clearly, and make decisions based on sound reasoning. The principles are simple, and the method can be adapted to many situations.

You can teach your child to use the SODAS method in both positive and negative situations. Here are the steps:

  • S = Situation (define the situation)
  • O = Options (come up with options)
  • D = Disadvantages (think of the disadvantages of each option)
  • A = Advantages (think through the advantages of each option)
  • S = Solution (choose a solution)

The Power of Listening to Your Child

Sometimes, the most powerful thing you can do as a parent is listen to your child. When your grade schooler wants to talk, listen carefully to what they have to say. Give them your full attention and try to identify issues that come up from your child's perspective.

Talking with your child instead of at them will help build a trusting, loving relationship that can empower your child to  resist negative peer pressure.

Teaching Activity

Open Discussion on Peer Pressure

At your next family meeting, put the topic of peer pressure on the agenda for an honest, open conversation.

  1. Invite your children to take the lead in a discussion about peer pressure and how it affects them through their relationships, at school, in the media, or on the internet.
  2. Ask your kids what they can do and how you can help them avoid or resist peer pressure.

Social skill

Choosing Appropriate Friends and Resisting Negative Peer Pressure

Choosing Appropriate Friends

One of the most important ways to reduce the dangers of negative peer pressure in your child's life is to help them choose the right friends. Have them consider the following steps:

  1. Think of the qualities and interests you look for in a friend.
  2. Look at the strengths and weaknesses of potential friends.
  3. Match the characteristics of potential friends with activities and interests you would share.
  4. Avoid peers who are involved with fighting, bullying, or stealing.

Resisting Negative Peer Pressure

  1. Look at the person.
  2. Use a calm, assertive voice tone.
  3. Clearly state that you do not want to engage in the inappropriate activity.
  4. Suggest an alternative activity. Give a reason.
  5. If the person persists, continue to say, "No."
  6. If the peer will not accept your "No" answer, ask them to leave, or remove yourself from the situation.
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