Helping Preteens Deal With Peer Pressure

If you have a preteen, then be prepared.  Peer pressure usually escalates in middle school and, if your child doesn’t know how to adequately handle it, high school can be brutal.  There are a few key ways that you can help your preteen deal with peer pressure better:  teach them about what peer pressure is, offer them ways to cope with it, and keep the lines of communication open.

Teaching Preteens about Peer Pressure

Adults know what peer pressure is, but sometimes we take for granted that our preteens will be able to recognize it the way we do.  As parents, it’s important to tell your kids what peer pressure is and let them know that it is going to happen.  Most importantly, let them know that you are there to help them navigate the difficulties that could arise from interaction with peers.  Here are some things to remember when talking to your preteen about peer pressure:

* Inquire.  Ask them if they are being pressured to do something that they know they shouldn’t do.  Be forthright in asking about kids who bully other students, cut class, or get smart with the teacher.

* Inform.  Let your preteen know that their responsibility is to follow the rules set forth by your family and that you will be there to help them divert any negative pressure that is put on them by other kids to break those rules.

* Impart.  Share experiences that you might have had when you were younger and impart to them any wisdom that you have gained on the subject.  Analyze the ways that you handled peer pressure and ask for your child’s input as to how a person could deal with those situations.

Peer Pressure – It’s Not All Bad

As parents, one of the first step in helping your preteen cope with peer pressure is to identify where it’s coming from and the details surrounding it.  Remember, all peer pressure is not negative.  Sometimes peers can put the sort of pressure on your child that improves their grades or encourages them to go out for track or volleyball.  Peer pressure can be used to get your student involved in study groups, extracurricular school clubs, or even to use their manners.

Getting Involved

The best way for parents to identify whether peer pressure is becoming a problem is to get involved and stay caught up on who your child is hanging out with and what they are doing. Let your house be the house everybody comes to for sleepovers.  Listen to how your child interacts with their friends.  After a while, it won’t be hard to pick up on who is pressuring who to do what.

Ways to Deal with Peer Pressure

One effective way to help your preteen deal with negative peer pressure is to practice various scenarios with them.  Role playing is a safe way to get your child to practice saying “no” and walking away.  Not only that, but role playing will give you, the parent, valuable insight regarding the tactics that other children use to try to manipulate and coerce. Parents should also consider making sure that their children know that it’s okay to talk to other trusted adults about peer interactions.  Many kids don’t feel comfortable talking to their parents about certain things, but won’t talk to anybody else because they think it will anger their parents.  Let your child know that talking to a teacher, a school counselor, or the principal about these issues is perfectly acceptable.  When all else fails, let your child know that you are willing and able to be the scapegoat.  Tell them that it’s okay to simply blame everything on the parents.  For example, if one student is trying to coerce your preteen into smoking, let them know that it’s okay to say something like, “I’m not going to do that because my parents would kill me if they found out.”  Parents should remember that for a preteen to effectively counter peer pressure, it takes practice, a bit of social skill, and guts.  By having a scapegoat, kids have a way out when they can’t do it on their own. In the end, it’s all about parents caring about their children and being willing to understand what they are going through.  And by being involved and keeping communication lines open, you can help your preteen become better prepared to face negative peer pressure situations.

About Melissa J. Murphy

Melissa Murphy is in the business of building self-esteem, instilling confidence, and restoring hope in those who have given up on life. She is currently completing her degree in psychology, and has worked as a life coach and faith-based counselor for more than a decade. By bringing her personal life experiences into her work, Melissa is able to help others survive their wounds, heal their pain, and live a life of success despite having incurred overwhelming emotional scars. For the last few years, she has discovered the joys of writing and has published a growing number of articles. Melissa currently resides in the Houston area with her husband and her two wonderful children.

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