Back to School: Encouraging Your Child to Resist Peer Pressure

(As discussed in interivew with Saleema Noon on VTV Breakfast Television Show on August 29, 2000)

1. Make Your Family Values Clear

It’s perfectly OK to stress to your child, for example, that “In our family, we don’t have sex before marriage” or “we don’t smoke”. These moral guidelines give your child a reason not to engage in behaviour he is not comfortable with.

2. Keep Her Busy

It’s common sense–children who are occupied in a variety of activities have less time to get in to trouble! In addition, being involved in sports teams or other peer groups may give her a greater sense of worth and belonging. Be careful not to over program your child, though! Kids need time just to be kids.

3. Practice, Practice, Practice!

Role-playing is what makes skills real. Brainstorm responses to possible peer pressure situations with your child and practice creative solutions. For example, use “I” statements to express feelings assertively. Think of different ways to get out of a peer pressure situation safely.

4. Foster High Self-Esteem

Research consistently shows that children with high self-esteem and self-worth are much less likely to succumb to peer pressure. Take every opportunity to stress to your child how much he is loved and valued for his unique qualities talents and accomplishments. A child with high self-esteem may not feel the need to do something just because “everyone else is doing it”.

5. Set Guidelines, But Give Your Child Space

If a child feels restricted and overprotected, she may rebel. So, let your child know that you trust her to make decisions that keep her safe, healthy and happy. Assure your child also that she wouldn’t be in trouble for asking you to get her out of a peer presure situation, regardless of what it was. For example, if she called you to pick her up from a party where people were doing drugs, don’t dwell too much on the fact that she was there against your wishes. Instead, be proud that she was responsible enough to ask for your help and encourage her to make better choices about where she goes in the future.