Buddies, bro, dude, friends… Your children are amongst them most of the time. Childhood friendships are cherished for life. There is a special feeling about childhood friendships. Children love the company of their age group and mingle with them soon. Neighborhood or in school, children make friends. They influence their behaviors, attitude and values.
In the fast changing world, the word peer pressure has been sliding down to school going children too. Peer pressure has been reported as one of the significant challenge faced by modern parents.
Peer pressure may have a positive impact or result in negative experiences. You may have observed many a times that they tend to imitate the mannerisms of their friends. They learn table manners, learn to read and write collectively, games, cooperative living and social adjustments along with friends. Do you recollect some imitation moments of good or bad behaviour, influenced by his buddy?
Here are a few things that friends can pressure each other to do
- Being honest
- Respect for others
- Inspire to study
- Work hard
- Learn new games
- Say no to bad things like lying, cheating in games
All is well when it is positive. The trouble brews when negative influences start overshadowing them. Negative influence can at times impact self-esteem and invite psychological ailments. I always remind parents to be very observant of your child’s behaviour and make smart moves to correct the course. With little help from you, they will be able to identify such negative influence and outgrow them.
When in pressure, children usually feel
- Sad, Anxious, Guilty, Angry
- Low self-esteem & Lack of confidence
- Dependency on others for minute work
- Withdrawal from social settings
Why do children show up such mannerisms?
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of losing a friend
- Don’t want to be made fun of
- Have no clues to get out of a situation
As parents, it is utmost essential for us to understand our children and the feelings that they experience. A Parent is the most intimate person a child can have; this bonding is an ever healer of troubles. Children at times refuse to listen to their parents if they try to advise them about something. This results in strained Parent-Child relationship. Parents have to be cautious to help children handle peer pressure in the right manner.
Five steps to help children handle peer pressure
- Talk therapy: talk to your child on a regular basis about his day at school and his time at play. Children are usually eager to tell things that happened. Do listen to him with patience and interests and keep digging for more information about his friends and what he thinks or feels about them. Talking with children keeps your bonding with him healthy and also opens up the details of his friends and the depth of the relationships. You could then analyze and convince them on the rights and the wrongs.
- Develop a strong Self Confidence in your child. The values that you seed in, the discipline that you impart, the belief system that you instill will build a strong Self Confidence in your child. A confident child is less affected by their peers as they are sure of how they feel, think or behave.
- Educate your child with the word ‘NO’. Explain to your child about peer influence. Let them know the power of the word ‘NO’. If a child learns the skill to say ‘No’ in a polite but firm manner to unreasonable demands, he has mastered the skill of dealing with different types of people.
- Empower your child to learn to deal with pressure situations and not avoid them. Help them understand and differentiate between their right and wrong choices in life and nurture them into better and strong individuals. They can pick up a skill to filter the suggestions/ ideas/ thoughts they receive from their friends instead of blindly accepting them without questioning. Instill the values of being proud of what you are and what you possess.
- Be a friend to your child. When your child makes a list of his friends, make sure your name is on the top of the list. Also, ensure you are an ideal role model your child can have. Children learn by watching and blindly accept the behaviour of elders as “Standard”. When you face a pressure situation, remember you are setting the standard.
Consider professional help. If you find the child showing symptoms of low self-esteem, loss of confidence or trouble in managing influences of friends, he may benefit from talking with a professional. Don’t hesitate to meet a professional to avoid severe complications in life. Encourage and appreciate your child when he is around with the right set of “Peers”. Endorse the joy of friendships! Let them enjoy the beautiful bonding of friendship!.
Medha Kedar Tonapi,
Health in your Mind
Life Coach, Parent Coach.
Picture Credits: Stanley ka Dabba – 2011, Picrevise, Getty Images