Author Quentin Crisp said, “The young always have the same problem – how to rebel and conform at the same time. They have now solved this by defying their parents and copying one another.” How true.
As a parent, your biggest enemy by far is negative peer pressure. Notice the word “negative.” There is such a thing as positive peer pressure – when good friends talk your child out of doing something stupid. But, negative peer pressure can destroy everything you’ve worked so hard for. Teach your kids the 10 ways to stand up to peer pressure:
1. Eyes Like a Hawk
Constantly observe the habits and behavior of your child. Know him better than he knows himself. Abrupt changes in dress or attitude could signal trouble. Pay attention if he starts dressing differently. Possibly he will use more disrespectful language or a negative attitude. Newly-formed friendships can be at the root of the change. Children, of course, go through phases. No need to overreact at every turn. However, always have hawk-like eyes and be on top of trouble the minute it shows up.
2. Meet the Crew
Your daughter’s friends are important to her. So they should be important to you as well. That means taking a vested interest. Make her friends feel welcome in your home. Talk to them when possible. Feeding them is a good way to make that happen. Everybody talks when meals or snacks are served. Offer to drive them where they want to go. The car is another good place to start conversations. The more they talk, the more you learn.
3. Meet the Parents
Following that same theory, make an effort to know the parents of your child’s friends as well. Throw a backyard party. Invite all the children and parents as well. Do they share your same values, beliefs, and convictions? Establish an open communication. If problems arise, you will then feel more comfortable bringing it up.
4. Sleep Overs
All kids enjoy sleepovers. Generally, they have a whole lot of fun. Awesome. What else is going on? If your daughter is sleeping over at her bff’s house, how much do you really know? Are they watching movies you would not approve of? Talking about things that are new and beyond her young ears? Before allowing a sleepover, make sure you know the child and her parents. Peer pressure thrives in this environment.
5. Be the Parent
When parents strive to be their child’s friend they give up their authority and influence. You are not his friend. You are his parent. There is a major difference. When parents strive to be their child’s friend they give up their authority and influence. Of course, you want a fun and loving relationship. As long as it does not impede on your ability to have the final say. Many great parents have heard the words “I hate you” as the child storms up the staircase. It’s hurtful and hard to take. However the reply is always, “You will thank me later.”
6. Family Virtues
“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” Your family should have a set of standards that all are expected to live up to. Choose 5 -10 virtues that you consider vital. Instruct your children in them and be sure to lead by example. Make it a matter of family pride. “It doesn’t matter how the family down the street does it, this is how we do it.”
7. Opportunities to Teach
Our world today provides more than enough chances to point out good and bad behavior. We have televisions, high speed internet, and mobile phones. We are never without instant access to any type of news, sports, or entertainment. That is a whole lot of influence on everyone in the family. If you are watching a show with your son that portrays a desirable quality, point it out. If you are listening to a song with your daughter that has lyrics glorifying loose behavior, point it out. Counteract the bad influence with discussion and other options.
8. The Big Picture
People have a tendency to believe their own behavior does not affect others. We feel small in a giant world. Completely untrue. Try teaching your children to see the bigger picture. Pose questions to them such as, “What if everyone shoplifted like your classmate Dave?” “What if everybody cheated on their tests?” “How would these things affect society?” Give your kids the ability to understand how they affect the world and not just themselves. It builds wisdom and strong character.
9. Concern for Others
Children certainly can be and will be cruel. Teach empathy to your child; a concern for the feelings and well-being of others. A child who has these qualities is much less likely to follow the pack at any cost. They will understand the damage being done and stand against it. Society needs leaders who bring out the good in others and stand for justice. This starts by teaching empathy.
10. Unique Purpose
Most children who fall victim to destructive peer pressure have lower self-esteem. It’s normal to feel lost as a teenager. A group that shows acceptance and understanding is attractive. Gangs recruit young souls based solely on this knowledge. Do not let this be your child. We are all created with a unique purpose. Every single person has much to offer this world. Help your child know how much they are loved and their true identity. A child with self-confidence and moral strength is difficult to corrupt when guided with love and care.
What kinds of pressure do your kids face in order to fit in?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “In what ways do you feel pressure to fit in?”