Overcoming Peer Pressure

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Peer pressure is more of a problem than ever. Our children deal with more pressures from more directions than ever. The most important weapon is talking daily with your kids.

I hear parents say, "My kids don't talk to me about any thing". My question is, are you waiting for them to speak first? If you never taught them how to talk to you, then you should understand why they won't talk to you. Children learn from parents setting the example on so many things.

Most of the experts say that peer pressure starts in kindergarten or first grade. Some think it starts between eight and ten years old. To me it doesn't matter when it starts, its when you start teaching your child how to deal with it. Peer pressure forces them to make decisions they may not be ready to make. For that reason some will choose to drink alcohol, smoke, try drugs and even start having sex. Do you want your children making these choices unprepared?

I feel babies even a few months old can learn. If you are talking to them, playing games, laughing, or just holding them, they can learn. They don't understand what's going on now, but if you keep doing these things every day of every month of every year they will, at some point, begin to imitate you. So if from the beginning you do nothing then don't wonder why you can't connect when they are 13 years old. The future for a baby is blank and it's up to you, parents, to give them the skills to learn how to make the right choices.

This page, like so many, is going to be lenghthy. You need to print the information, study it and go over it with your child. I listed some information, websites and books that will get you started in helping your children make the right choices when they encounter peer pressure.

About Peer Pressure


Peer pressure is when a child does something he or she does not want to do as a result of being pressured by peers. All children experience peer pressure and give into it at one time or another. Here are some steps parents can take to minimize its effects:


Family is important to teens:


* Develop a close, open, and honest relationship with your children so that children will want to identify with and work to please their parents. These children are much more likely to come to their parents when they are in trouble or are having problems. Talk to children about morals and values -- the best defense against peer pressure.


* Help children understand peer pressure so they will be better able to stand up to peer pressure and the suggestions of bad companions. Let them know peer pressure is something all children and adults experience at some time and it is normal to want to fit in. Gangs are less attractive to children who get their needs met at home.


* Plan regular and frequent activities the whole family can participate in such as picnics, hiking, sports, etc. Parents who spend quality time develop close relationships with their children; thus children are less likely to give in to peer pressure or gangs. "The family has to be the better gang."

 Louis Gonzales, Ph.D.

Stay Involved in Your Child's Life


* Encourage friendships with positive role models and join groups or activities which involve interacting with positive role models, (i.e. scouting, sports, church groups)


* Get to know our children’s friends and their parents to see if they are a positive influence, and have similar values.


* Know where your children are and what they are doing. Supervise them at home and know where they are, whom they are with and what they are doing.


* Don"t criticize the children's friends who might be a bad influence. They will become defensive and continue to be with them. Do discuss specific behaviors and actions. "It seems like every time you are with Tom you get grounded."


* Encourage a wide variety of friends. This promotes individuality and makes it less likely for children to give in to peer pressure from any one group.


* Teach responsibility. (See fact sheet #30 Responsibility) Responsible children consider their options. They tend to cooperate more consciously than "people-pleasers," (children who are motivated by approval) by considering their options rather than automatically making choices to avoid conflict or negative reactions from someone.


Help Your Child Develop a Positive Self-Image


Encourage individuality and independence by modeling or demonstrating those behaviors. Parents who resist peer pressure are teaching their children to do the same. Discuss independence with our children and stress the importance of being one’s own person and doing what one feels is right.


Teach assertiveness through role playing so that children will be able to standup for what they believe is right. We can also teach problem solving when children are faced with peer pressure by suggesting alternative activities or explaining why they refuse to participate in a certain activity.

Praise assertiveness—behavior that is praised is much more likely to be repeated.


Provide appropriate discipline when children give into peer pressure such as restitution, restricting privileges, or not letting the child spend time with the friend or friends with whom he got into trouble.


If you are suspicious your child may have given in to peer pressure, try to figure out the reason the child has given into peer pressure and address it. If they lack self-confidence or self-esteem, then work on building those qualities.


Seek help if a child is consistently giving into peer pressure.


Signs of Peer Pressure:


* Excessive demands for material things his friends has


* Disregarding your rules in order to do things with friends


* Stealing with friends


* Any hint of alcohol or drugs


* Teens seriously misleading you about friends or whereabouts


* Doing things to avoid rejection, like complying or conforming with friends


Show Teens We Care:


* Always take time to really listen


* Give children privacy; teens need space


* Be accepting of our children, not too critical


* Don't rush the teen years or raise false expectations


* Develop a strong sense of family unity by spending time together


Talk about sex, drugs and alcohol!



Peer pressure can be positive. It keeps youth participating in religious activities, going to meetings and playing on sports teams, even when they are not leaders. It keeps adults going to religious services, serving on community committees and supporting worthwhile causes. The peer group is a source of affection, sympathy and understanding; it is a place for experimentation and a supportive setting for achieving the two primary developmental tasks of adolescence. These are identity (who I am) and autonomy (self separate and independent from parents.) Sources: Parent Education Network: Fact Sheets & Library The Parent’s Little Book of Lists, Jane Bluestein, Ph.D. Help Teens Cope With Peer Pressure Parent Pointers from The Parent Institute Dealing With Peer Pressure and Bad Companions, Center For Effective Parenting www.parenting-ed.org


Seek help if a child is consistently giving into peer pressure. "Did You Know?" fact sheets are publications of Parents Reaching Out. This publication was developed under a grant from the US Department of Education. However, views in this publication do not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education and should not be assumed to be an endorsement by the Federal Government.

Your child faces a number of tough decisions in her life. Since making friends and fitting in are important to many children, peer pressure has a big impact on decisions, especially on those about drug, alcohol, and tobacco use. Children may be afraid that if they say no to something harmful, they won't be accepted. It is important that you teach your child about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.

With so many substance abuse resources available today, this shouldn’t be too hard.

Other important skills your child needs are refusal skills. If you teach her how to say no to dangerous situations, she will feel more confident in her decisions. There are a number of ways your child can refuse drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Following is a guide for teaching your child refusal skills.

Ways To Say No

Say, "No, thanks." It could be just as easy as that! However, if the person offering the cigarette, beer, or joint persists, your child will have to back up her "No thanks" with other tactics.

Be a broken record. Tell your child to keep saying no as many times as he needs to, either to cause the person pressuring them to stop, or to stall until he can think of something else to say.

Give a reason. This reason could be simply, "I'm not allowed to do that," or, "That's bad for you." It could state the consequences, such as, "I don't want to do that; it will make me sick," or, "You can die from doing that." The important thing is that your child state her reason for saying no with confidence. It's important for your child not to get into an argument; the goal is to refuse what is being offered.

Walk away or ignore the offer. This doesn't work in all situations. Sometimes your child will be alone or in some other situation where he can't walk away.

Change the subject or suggest doing something else. By saying, "Let's do _______ instead," your child has the potential to not only refuse an offer of drugs, alcohol, or tobacco, but to prevent a friend from using them too.

Assert yourself. This is an important part of all the above tactics. If your child can stick up for herself, she is learning an important life skill. Being able to state your position assertively is a trait that we value in adults, so if your child learns it now, she will be better off in the future.

Remember, the best way to refuse drugs, alcohol, and tobacco is to spend time with people who don't use these substances. Help your children establish positive friendships, and monitor your child's activities.


Put It Into Practice

Once you teach your child refusal skills, it is important that you practice them with him. Different aged children may face different situations, and it's important to make sure you practice with situations that may actually happen. Start by asking your child what he does when someone tries to get him to do something he doesn't want to do. Do a number of role-play situations in which you pose as the offerer, and have your child practice different ways to say "no." When you are finished, your child should feel confident that he has the power to make the right choice.

The above article was borrowed from: http://www.family.samhsa.gov/teach/refusal.aspx

Teaching Children Refusal Skills

By Leah Davies, M.Ed.

Children who are taught refusal skills are more likely to make positive choices and refrain from engaging in high-risk behaviors. Helping children set limits for themselves and say "no" to outside pressures increases their self-confidence. When children learn to stop and consider the consequences before responding to a request, as well as a variety of ways to say "no," they become more accomplished at refusing to participate in anything that could harm themselves or others.

1. Ask the students to name choices they make daily. List their comments on the board. Some examples are:

A. Eat good food or junk food.

B. Be friendly or ignore others.

C. Follow the rules or disobey them.

D. Finish schoolwork or quit before it is done.

E. Be truthful or lie.

F. Listen to the teacher or talk while he/she is talking.

2. Have the children recall a time when a fellow student asked them to do something they really didn't want to do, or something that would cause a problem
for them or someone else. Some examples are:

A. Tease or bully others

B. Smoke a cigarette

C. Smell household products

D. Steal

F. Cheat

G. Drink beer

H. Disobey parental or school rules

I. Do dangerous things on their bike or skateboard

J. Lie

3. Tell the children that one way to keep themselves safe and out of trouble is to learn refusal skills. Explain that if they feel uncomfortable about a request they need to stop, think, and consider what might happen if they did what the other person asked.

4. Demonstrate being assertive if someone wants them to do something that would cause a problem. For example, if someone wanted to fight, a child could stand up straight, look the other person in the eye, put his or her hands on their hips and say in a firm voice, "I'm not going to fight with you!" Have the children all stand and practice this. Comment that using this demeanor may help in some situations, and that there are other ways a child may refuse, such as:

Say "No" or "No, thanks," over and over if necessary.

"No, you can't have my lunch money because it's all I have."

"No thanks, I don't smoke."

Call it what it is.

   "That's cheating (stealing, bullying, using drugs, not following the rules, etc.) and I don't do that."

Talk about something else.

"That was a great game!"

"Have you finished your project?"

"What's going on over there?"


Ask questions.

"What are you asking me to do?"

"Why would you want to do that?"

"What is your problem?"

Give reasons.

  "I don't want to get into trouble."

  "I think differently than you."

  "If I did that I would feel bad about it."

Use humor or sarcasm.

  •   "You have to be kidding; that beer can hurt the inside of my body."

  •   "Sure, that's all I need to do; then I'd be grounded for weeks!"

o Suggest doing something else.

  •   "Let's ride bikes."

  •   "Let's play a game."

  •   "Let's ask John to play ball."

o If you want their friendship, keep the door open.

  •   "If you decide to do something safer, let me know."

  •   "I'll be at home if you want to play video games."

5. Teach the children that when all else fails to ignore the other child or children and walk away.

6. Role Plays

When using role plays with young children, the teacher or school counselor needs to be the one promoting the negative behavior. Make sure the children understand that you are pretending and would never want a child to do what you are asking. Choose two assertive children to come up front.

Role Play 1

    • Teacher (giving background to students): "This is pretend. I do not want you to smoke cigarettes. You two are friends and I am a child, too. I invited you over to play, but at the last minute my mom had to go to the store. I will offer you a cigarette, but I don't want you to take it. Be thinking about what you will say or do. Okay?"

      Teacher (in character) :
      "Hey, I'm glad you both could come over. Mom's gone to the store. I found some of her cigarettes. Let's smoke them! She'll never know. Watch me (pretend to light up a cigarette and smoke it.) Here, have one?"

      If the child says, "No!" then ask, "Why?"

      Responses could be . . .

      "Smoking can hurt my body,"
      "Tobacco is a drug."

      If a child says, "Okay" say to the class: "Is that a good choice?"

      They will usually say "no." If they say "yes," ask an individual child you think will answer correctly to come to the front and respond. Call the children who refused the cigarette "smart," and have everyone clap for them.

Role Play 2

    • Teacher (giving background to students): "What if a friend wanted you to take money out of the teacher's desk? Stealing is not only against the school rules, it's also against the law. I need a helper. (Choose a child.) We are friends, and we are in the classroom alone while the other children and teacher are out on the playground."

      Teacher (in character): "Hey, did you see Mrs. Jones put money in her desk? I was watching and she forgot to lock it. You take it and we'll split it. She'll never know who did it."

      Encourage the child to say something like?

      "Stealing is big trouble."
      "I don't steal."
      "If I did that I'd feel bad inside."

      Call the decision "smart," and have everyone clap.

Role Play 3

    • Teacher (giving background to students): "What if a new child in the class had wrinkled, old looking clothes?" (Choose a child.)

      Teacher (in character as a classmate): "Did you see how messy the new kid looks? Let's not play with her."

      Hopefully the child will refuse to go along with the friend and say something like?

      "She looks nice to me and I'm going to play with her. It's not right to leave kids out because they don't have nice clothes."

      Compliment her for being "kind" and have everyone clap.

Invite the children to create other role plays involving choices such as: saying "no" to alcohol, fighting, cheating, teasing, gossiping, etc. Having the children participate in role plays not only provides them with practice making positive choices, but they receive approval through applause from their peers for choosing to do what's right for them and their classmates.

The above was borrowed from: http://www.kellybear.com/TeacherArticles/TeacherTip21.html

10 Ways You Can Help Your Child Cope With Peer Pressure

Standing up to peer pressure is one of the greatest challenges that children face. Many are unable to stand up to the challenge and are led into participating in risky or even illegal activities. Help your child deal with peer pressures by doing the following:

1. Strengthen the bond with your child. He will be more likely to respect your views and values and better able to resist peer pressure if he has a good relationship with you and feels you are a source of support. This bond needs to be nurtured long before your child's teenage years.

2. Promote your child's self-esteem. Children who are confident and have positive self-worth are more likely to pursue friendships with children who are good role models and better able to resist negative peer pressure. Find opportunities to boost your child's self-esteem and enjoy success by involving him in activities that capitalize on his strengths and interests. And, of course, praise him for things he does well at home.

3. Set a good example. Your child is a keen observer of what you do and may learn more from what he sees than what he hears. If he sees that you are constantly striving to keep up with other parents, he will likely do the same with his peers. If he sees you drinking and smoking, he is less likely to resist engaging in these behaviors. If you do drink or smoke, giving it up will make a vivid impression on him.

4. Talk with your child about peer pressure. Let your child know that you understand how hard it can be at his age to do things that make him stand out. Tell him that his peers may respect his decision not to join them in an activity even though they may not express it, and that some may even admire his courage in resisting what they could not. Help him understand that a friend who is pressuring him to do something that may be harmful is not much of a friend. Appeal to his desire for autonomy by encouraging him not to let others manipulate or make decisions for him.

5. Avoid overreacting when talking about peer issues. Your child may tell you things that may make your jaw drop. If you overreact, you will discourage him from talking with you about these issues again. At the same time use these teachable moments to introduce some cautions without moralizing or lecturing. Although it may seem as though he is dismissing what you are saying, he will hear you.

6. Choose your battles carefully. Don't make an issue out of your child's wanting to wear the same clothes as his friends or adopt a trendy hairstyle. Make your stand on high-risk peer behavior. Battling your child constantly over minor issues may drive your child toward peers who are similarly alienated from their parents. Not sweating the small stuff will enable you to be more effective when you challenge him on the larger issues.

7. Help your child develop good decision-making skills. If he can learn to trust his own instincts when making decisions, he will be less likely to let others make decisions for him. Encourage him to think through the possible consequences of the decision he is facing, including whether it may cause him harm. Let him know that giving in to the pressure now may make life harder for him later on.

8. Help your child develop responses to peers. Help him figure out what to say to peers who are pressuring him to participate in high-risk activities. Suggest responses that are short and simple and that he can say comfortably. If he is receptive, role-play with him or encourage him to practice in front of a mirror.

9. Get to know your child's friends. Make a point of encouraging your child to invite his friends home. Spend some time with them and assess whether they are positive influences.

10. Don't hesitate to set limits for your child. Your willingness to say no to him sets a good example and may help give him the courage to say no to a peer when faced with a potentially harmful situation.

The article above was borrowed from: http://www.freearticles.com/article/10-Ways-You-Can-Help-Your-Child-Cope-With-Peer-Pressure/668

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