“Come on let’s bunk class and have an ice cream instead.”

“ Why do you wear such “behenji” clothes?

In today’s world, children come with their set of opinions about what is “cool” and what is not. In a world where taking individual decisions itself is hard enough, your child is likely to face such challenging situations on a daily basis. Teaching him how to handle such situations will equip him with the necessary life skills and not to be intimidated by peer pressure.

What do we mean by peer pressure?

By peers, we mean people who are of a similar age. When such people begin to influence the decisions taken by a person, it is called peer pressure. When your child spends time with a group of kids of similar age, it is natural that he will influence them and be influenced by them to a certain extent. This can work in two ways. Your child might be positively influenced by some one in his group, say a friend who is very diligent about studies and does all his work on time or a friend whom your child admires for his sporting ability, which encourages him to take up the sport himself. There can also be negative influences on your child like a ‘dare devil’ friend who challenges him to shop lift or try out smoking. These are some of the realities which you as a parent have to face.

Understand your Child

To help your child deal with peer pressure, you have to first understand the reason he gives into peer pressure. Discuss with your child and find out why he is acting the way he does. Is it because he wants to “fit in” or is it because he is plain curious to see why “everybody is doing it”? Is he afraid that others might make fun of him if he doesn’t do it? Once you know what is going on in his mind, you will be able to help him in a better way.

Build Confidence

One of the best ways you can help your child is by building his confidence. If your child is brought up with a strong belief in his abilities (and awareness of his weaknesses) he will feel less pressure to fit in with the peers. Do not smother your child with excessive praising; this may make him crave for a positive validation, from whoever he comes in contact with. Praise in moderation and ensure that your child understands that you are praising his efforts, and not the fact that he has come first or second. This will enable him to focus more on the actual process rather than the results.

Avoid comparisons

At all costs avoid comparing your child with his peers. Remember that there will always be others who do better than your child. Your job is not to point those who are better than him, but to show him how he can do the best that he can. Once your child has a sense of healthy competition, he may not feel the need to keep up with his peers all the time

Teach him to say No

This is one life skill that will help him all his life. Encourage him to have faith in his decisions, and have the courage to say no to a person, if he feels it’s not right. Also dissuade them for giving lengthy explanations justification.

Limits

Ensure that your child knows his limits. Set rules for your child and ensure that he knows what is acceptable and what is not. Having clear idea about what he is not allowed to do will make it easier for him to come to a decision.

Child’s friends

Make it a point to know who your child’s friends are, without seeming intrusive. So you could may be invite them over for a pizza or a sleep over night, and try to get to know them, their interests etc. This will also pave the way for introductions with the kid’s parents, so that you feel less intimidated when your child visits their house.

Above all, it is vital that your child understands that he is loved unconditionally and that he can share anything with you.

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