AD | Collaborative post
Peer pressure is something we all face at some point or another in our lives, especially as teenagers when we’re trying to make sense of our position in the world and within our social circles. Young people who want to gain approval from their peers will often take part in risky or unsafe behaviour, from cheating in class to stealing or dabbling with drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol. These actions are not only bad for them in the short-term, but they may also send them on a downward spiral. Here’s some advice from a prep school in Hertfordshire to help you teach your child to avoid peer pressure.
Start by teaching your child what peer pressure actually is so that they can spot the signs if and when it happens to them. Perhaps you could share some examples of when it has happened to you or find an age-appropriate YouTube video that outlines peer pressure. Talk to them about what makes a true friend, emphasising that they should never feel pressured to do something that makes them uncomfortable. Remind them that it’s okay to say no and that being individual, rather than following the crowd, is what makes them special. You should also try and create a home environment in which your child feels comfortable opening up to you about this sort of thing.
If your child talks to you about something their friends are doing that you don’t approve of, try not to overreact or lecture them, because they might start to feel defensive and reluctant to open up to you again. What’s more, if you say things like “That boy is a bad influence on you” or “That girl is going to get you into trouble”, you are essentially setting them up to fail and implying that you don’t have faith in them, so it’s best to avoid these types of judgemental comments. Instead, stay calm and try and use these opportunities to highlight the consequences of the behaviour in question. For instance, you could say “I wonder if your friend knows they could be arrested for doing that?”.
Try and get to know your child’s friends if possible, so that you can quietly decide whether or not you think they are a good influence on your child. If you have concerns, don’t be afraid to speak to your child’s teacher, as they may be able to help you encourage your child to associate with different peers. For instance, they may set up a seating plan which forces your child to sit next to someone outside of their friendship group or encourage group work in which the teams are pre-decided by the teacher.