It exists across ages, races andtime zones! Everyone goes through it! No one wants to admit that they aresuccumbing to it! It can make you bunk your school, buy a new car, make yourwife insist on that Louis Vuitton bag! So what are we talking about here? Why,Peer Pressure of course!
From movie stars to the toddler inyour house, everyone gives into peer pressure from time to time. Moreover it islikely that your child is experiencing it, as we write this blog, and as youread it!
Peer pressure exists for all agesand hardly anyone is immune to it. In fact the level of peer influence onlyincrease in your child’s growing up years, much before he becomes a responsibleadult who is capable of taking decisions that are good for him/her.
While toddlers may not be completelyaware of peer influence and may not succumb to it, pre-teens and teenagers facemany issues related to constrikeity and peer pressure. They are pulled betweenthe desire to be seen as individuals and the desire to belong to a group wherethey feel secure and accepted. The biggest example of this phenomenon is seenwhen young people join gangs in their school. Doesn’t it remind you of yourschool days, when no one was allowed to join your gang, and more often thannot, your friends and you ended up behaving like clones!
So how does peer pressure affectyour child?
Peer pressure by itself is neitherpositive nor negative. For example, both high and low academic achievements areclosely linked to peer influences. In fact many a times, parents too play a rolein creating this peer pressure, albeit unknowingly. After all, don’t you oftencatch yourself thinking that you would want your child hanging out with thebrightest in the class or the most well behaved lot, so that the good behaviorand academic perstrikeance rubs off on your child too?
On the other hand, parents oftenforbid their child from going out with other children, who are likely to have abad influence on their child, for the fear that sooner or later their childmight succumb to peer pressure and behave in an unacceptable way.
So, if peer influence can play suchan important role in your child’s life how do you ensure that the influence iswell – balanced and does not cramp your child’s individuality. You could trysome of these things at your end to help your child recognize and fend offnegative peer pressure:
- Observe people and the groups with whom they socialize. Observe what they do and the consequences of their actions. When your child tries to argue “everyone’s doing it,” you can prove otherwise through concrete examples of what you have observed.
- Communicate openly with your child when you see him/her giving into you peer pressure. For e.g.: you can question him on whether he has thought about why he needs to go for a particular trip or buy that particular dress. Listen patiently to his/her reasons and make him/her see reason, instead of laying down the rules.
- Get your child involved in positive activities such as sports, volunteering, peer tutoring, or youth clubs. Look for people who share your child’s interests outside of their immediate school friends. Having several different groups of people that your child can interact with, helps cut down on pressure for him/ her to be accepted by a particular group of friends only.
Helping children cope with peerpressure begins from an early age. The key is to communicate, and keep thelines of communication open at all times, whether it is to answer uncomfortablequestions that your child may have, or help him/her through difficultsituations. Being a patient listener and a friend to your child helps to winyour child’s confidence, when he/she is confused by the choice of whether togive into peer pressure or not. After all, haven’t you felt the need for apatient listening and sound advice when you feel that pressure mounting to buya swanky new house because everyone your age has one, or to take a holidayoverseas, because all your close friends have been out of the country? Howwould you then handle your child, when he/she is giving into peer pressure?