Few children are immune to peer pressure. Whether it’s in the playground, at the park, or at a dance class, other kids and cliques can have a big influence on the way your child feels, thinks and behaves. It’s not always negative - most of the time your little one’s friends are brilliant social companions.
However, in order for your child to resist conforming to sticky peer pressure situations, they need a healthy self-esteem - and there’s plenty you can do to help them out. Here are a few ways to teach your kid how to love being themselves and prevent the chances of them falling victim to dangerous crazes such as “blue whale games” and other toxic behaviours.
Teach them to say “no”
Teach your child they don’t have to do anything they don’t feel comfortable with. This is especially important with the ‘everyone’s-doing-it’ mentality that can influence some children to drop their better judgements and go along with the bad crowd. Play out some common situations in a roleplay session with your child - whether it’s a peer encouraging bullying or daring them to steal. Then, ask your child to respond with different ways of saying no. You could even write down a list of especially creative things to say.
Praise the positives
No matter how old your child is, praise will boost their self-esteem and confidence. Children are more likely to repeat behaviour if they’re applauded for it, so commending them for saying no to situations peers tempt them into will make them more likely to say no in the future. If your child is stuck, not knowing the right thing to do, make sure they know you’re always there to ask for advice. Try to keep up to date with what their friends are doing so that you can discuss the risks associated with them joining in - and praising them if they don’t.
Find new circles
Encourage your child to get involved in exciting activities friends are doing so that they can join in on the things that will benefit them in a good way. If you can divert them to peers that make them happier and give them confidence, they’ll be less likely to give into badly-behaved peers. If they have friends that don’t have their best interests at heart, it’s probably best to seek out new circles who share your child’s values.
Be your best
The most powerful peer for your children sits across them at the dinner table every night - you. Leading your kid by example often means taking an honest look at your own life and self-esteem. Be the best role model you can by making the right decisions in areas such as food, exercise, education and the way you interact with others. Children that see confident parents with healthy, respectful relationships are more likely to develop the same.