Creative Child

Helping Your Child Resist Peer Pressure and Hold to Their Values

by Rebecca Eanes

It wasn’t long before it happened. Within weeks of starting school, my son began to feel the pressures of fitting in, being cool, and belonging to a group of peers. This year, in third grade, the stakes became higher. 

“If you don’t like sports, you can’t play with us.”
“If you (fill in the blank), I won’t be your friend anymore.”

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The thing is, your child’s friends rarely love without conditions, and jumping through the conditions of acceptance and approval is exhausting every single day. My son wants to be popular. He wants to be liked. I see him walking the line daily between conforming and remaining true to himself. I’ve witnessed him take up for himself and I’ve seen him give in to the pressure. Sometimes we assume childhood is easy and stress-free. We’ve forgotten how hard it was to form an identity when so many people were telling you who you should be.

How can we help our children resist all of this peer pressure and hold tight to the values we’ve tried so desperately to instill? Here are 6 ways to protect your kids.

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1. Build a quality, connected relationship. This is the only way you will have the greater influence in your child’s life. If your child doesn’t feel completely loved and accepted at home, you can bet she will do just about anything to find that acceptance with her peers. Humans are wired to crave connection and acceptance. Be her person

2. Establish good communication. Talk about peer pressure early, even in Kindergarten. Explain what it is so they can recognize it when it happens. Use a positive communication style with your children so they feel heard and respected. Don’t be quick to dish out criticism or advice and be careful with your words. If children feel that you are too judgmental or aren’t safe to confide in, you’ll lose their trust, and trust is key to guiding them through childhood and adolescence. 

3. Make your values clear and live them. Create a positive family culture guided by your values and set reasonable rules that communicate what is acceptable and what isn’t. Use your family’s mission statement as a guide, and hold regular family meetings where you discuss your values and mission. 

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