Help your child resist peer pressure

Managing peer pressure is part and parcel of growing up. We have pointers on how junior can handle it.

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As junior gets older, about the time they start Primary school, they start caring more and more what other kids think of them ― and less about what their parents think.

Children who seek approval from their peers and yearn to become more popular will often take part in undesirable, even risky, behaviour like bullying, cheating in class, smoking, alcohol and sex — all of which get in the way of how well they do in school.

Of course, the crowd your child hangs out with usually determines how this relationship will impact his development. Supportive and encouraging pals who share his interests can have a positive impact in motivating your child to excel in school.

On the flipside, some kids don’t make wise friend choices, especially when they hang out with youths who dabble in underage drinking and smoking. So, what may be causing some kids to choose to mix with the wrong company?

Explaining that children require guidance, care and support from their loved ones, especially their parents, Focus on the Family’s parenting specialist Sarah Chua notes, “When parents are absent or too busy to be involved in their children’s lives, [their children] might look to other people to provide love and support. Sometimes, this can mean the wrong company.”

As a parent, you shape your child’s behaviour when you establish clear rules and boundaries. So, a child who does not have such a role model in the family will find it tough to handle his emotions or mind his behaviour. Chua says, “Parents should regularly communicate their love, faith and expectations to their children, supporting and encouraging them to do well and to make the right decisions.”

“When parents are absent or too busy to be involved in their children’s lives, [their children] might look to other people to provide love and support. Sometimes, this can mean the wrong company.”

It is also vital to start encouraging him from a young age to build relationships with friends who are responsible in their thinking and actions. This way, your child will know how to differentiate between friends he can count on and people he should stay away from. Chua notes that it’s important to instil a strong sense of integrity, positive values and empathy for others will suffice.

Help junior shrug off peer pressure ― suggest ways in which he can beat temptation and exercise restraint, she adds. Here’s how:

*Saying no and meaning it Get your child to practise saying “no” in a safe environment to reject unreasonable requests — like doing their chores — from an older sibling. Play acting can also be another method to learn to say no. Staying firm on one’s decision can ensure your child isn’t pressured repeatedly by his classmates into doing something he doesn’t want to.

*Avoid being in a stressful situation If your child knows his friends are going to smoke or commit any wrongdoing, teach your child to make other plans to avoid being in their company.

*Get your child to consider the results of giving in Remind junior to take a moment to imagine what the consequences might be if he gets involved in wrongdoing.

Find out how to help your young ’un deal with online peer pressure…next!

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As if dealing with peer pressure in a school environment isn’t enough, it’s now a lot more personal and invasive, thanks to social media. Touch Family Services manager Chong Ee Jay cautions that the effects of peer pressure can be amplified on social media with the use of personal mobile devices.

Nor is your child able to tune out of social media because of their need for connection and validation. Chong explains they are compelled to stay connected because of FOMO — Fear Of Missing Out.

The nature of peer pressure is also manifested differently online. A victim of online peer pressure will likely find themselves on the receiving end of requests to perform the latest trend that’s gone viral on the Internet. These tend to be negative or controversial in nature, Chong notes. Even things like the Ice-Bucket Challenge, which took the Web by storm in 2014, took the life of an 18-year-old teen in England, reports British newspaper the Telegraph.

Chong has four suggestions to help your child cope with online peer pressure:

1. Be equipped and familiarise yourself with social media So as to guard your kids effectively online, you should first understand the ins-and-outs of a particular social media app. Chong advises, “I would recommend [for] parents [to get] relevant social media accounts which their children are involved in, so that they are familiarised with how the platform works ― like the respective platform’s community standards and policies and which avenues to seek help.” For instance, Facebook has the “Report Abuse” function and YouTube gives you the option to “flag” inappropriate content.

2. Add your child as friends on these platforms Besides connecting with your child online, becoming friends with your child online keeps you in the know of who and what is happening on the children’s social media accounts. Chong cautions that this must be done tactfully by explaining your choice of action to junior. Try to strike a balance between trust and privacy, don’t actively stalk your children online.

“See each conversation as a valued opportunity and a teaching moment to impart family values.”

3. Engage your child in hearty conversations Try to engage your child in conversations on different social topics and issues. And don’t be too quick to jump to conclusions when he shares his experiences. Listen and ask questions on why they think or make certain decisions the way they did. Chong points out, “See each conversation as a valued opportunity and a teaching moment to impart family values.”

4. Be an active parent Grab hold of opportunities to nurture your child into more confident and open individuals who are willing to share their problems and concerns with you. These efforts can range from spending quality time as a family to doing volunteer work together.

Photos: iStock

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