'Ask the Learning Advisor'

What can parents do about peer pressure?       Send a link to a friend

[MAY 11, 2005]  Q: I'm worried about peer pressure. Lately, it's become more important for our daughter to impress her friends than to live by the values we have tried to teach her. What can we do to help her resist all the negative influences surrounding her?

A: Children are influenced by their friends, just as adults are. That influence can be helpful or harmful. It can help children do better in school -- or cause real problems.

The good news is that you can help your child deal with peer pressure -- and even make it a positive influence in her life.

Here are some ways you can help:

  • Help your child develop self-confidence. Ask for her opinions. "What do you think we should do tomorrow?" Or, "I need to decide who to vote for in the election next week. Help me look over these articles and figure out who I should support."

  • When children see that they're capable of making good judgments, they'll be less likely to be blindly swayed by peer pressure.

  • Encourage participation in positive activities. With activities like music, athletics, Scouts or other youth groups, your child will be surrounded by peers who share her positive interests. After-school activities can also occupy the time your child might otherwise spend in negative pursuits.

  • Spend time talking with her about important issues. If you watch a television program that touches on peer pressure, talk about it. You might ask, "What would you have done in that situation?" Your willingness to listen -- and not just lecture -- will show your child that you respect her opinions.

  • Teach her to foresee situations that may lead to trouble. An invitation to a place that will have no adult supervision can lead to "sticky" situations. Phrases like "We won't get into any trouble" should be a tip-off that this may be a situation to avoid. Have her suggest other things to do: "Let's go see a movie." "Why don't we ride our bikes to the park?"

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  • Get to know her friends. Turn your house into the after-school or weekend hangout. For the price of some pizzas or popcorn, you can learn who is influencing your child. And, you'll be able to make sure that your child and her friends won't be using drugs and alcohol.

  • Talk with other parents at every opportunity. You'll learn that not everybody is allowed to stay out all night. You'll also find out that everybody else does have to do chores around the house. When your child knows what is really expected of other children, she can better handle the sometimes exaggerated claims of her peers.

Be consistent in your role as a parent. You can't choose your child's friends, but you can make her less vulnerable to negative peer pressure.

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For more information about helping children learn or to submit your own question to The Learning Advisor, go to http://advisor.parent-institute.com. All questions will receive a prompt answer by e-mail.

Copyright 2005, The Parent Institute.

"Ask the Learning Advisor -- Ideas for Raising Successful Children" is a free, syndicated column available through The Parent Institute.

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