Understanding peer pressure

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Peer pressure is the impact that a social group has over a person. Most of us face it even as adults, so children are no exception at an impressionable age. It is generally believed that peer pressure has negative impacts on a child. But this may not always be true.

Let’s take a look about how peer pressure affects kids.

Peer pressure tends to have a positive impact most of the time. But people usually tend to ignore the positives. For instance, kids working together to raise funds for a common cause may compete with each other trying to bring in more funds. And the pressure to join in or contribute from peers is actually good for the child.

There are other situations too, like school tests where there is healthy competition among kids to score the highest in class. Now, that is motivational peer pressure.

Of course, there’s also peer pressure that encourages teens to make undue demands of their parents. Wanting to buy new clothes, trying to always be updated with the lates gossip, and more. Peer pressure can make students bully others, try drugs or want to dress and behave in a certain way.

So, our job as parents is mostly to try to keep reiterating the need to minimize peer pressure. As children grow into teens, peer pressure is usually at its peak and their friends usually influence their decisions more than us parents. So, we need to try to reinforce the positives of peer pressure rather than the negatives. For instance, if your child wants the very expensive latest smart phone, don’t feel embarrassed to say no. We all work hard to earn and this is not something to feel ashamed of or dwell on. In contrast, when your child talks about how some friends are doing really well at studies, point out the positives, “so what if John can score a 100, you can too. It’s just that you haven’t tried.” But remember, this conversation has to be started by your child and not by you. Otherwise, it looks like you’re comparing your child with others. And this can have a negative impact on their self-esteem.

If your child talks to you about a situation when they don’t want to do something, but feel that if they don’t, they will not fit in, help them to find solid excuses to keep their balance and position in the group. Talk about situations when they may feel uncomfortable, and tell them ways to deal with it.

In the end, help your child build their own personality by developing the art of saying no when required.