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Teaching Your Kids How to Stay Positive When Dealing with Peer Pressure

Back to school is here! For many children, this is an exciting time of change, interaction, and seeing which friends are in their class. However, for some children, back to school can be a stressful time; and it’s not because of the homework.

Heading back to school can bring up immense peer pressure, fear and unkind treatment from other children. With the demands of children’s studies challenging them to learn and grow each day, negative pressure can cause undue stress for even the most confident kids. It is essential that parents identify these negative pressures and teach their children how to remain ‘cool’ when dealing with peer pressure or bullying.

While every child is different, most feel the need to ‘fit in’ and be part of the ‘cool’ crowd. This can present itself in a number of healthy outlets such as sports and hobbies, but many times being ‘cool’ can mean participating in an unsafe activity. It is extremely important for parents to work with their child to identify and deal with peer pressure in a productive way.

Tips to Help Children Cope with Peer Pressure:

  • Stay away from peers who pressure you to do things that seem wrong or dangerous.
  • Learn how to say ‘no,’ and practice how to avoid or get out of situations that feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
  • Spend time with other children who resist peer pressure. It helps to have a friend who is also willing to say ‘no.’
  • If you have problems with peer pressure, talk to a grown up you trust, like a parent, teacher or school counselor.
  • Getting involved in school activities and programs is a great way to reach out to peers who share similar interests.

Parents can also help by recognizing when their child is having a problem with peer pressure. The following are tips for parents to help your child deal with peer pressure:

  • Encourage open and honest communication. Let kids know they can come to you if they’re feeling pressure to do things that seem wrong or risky.
  • Teach your child to be assertive and to resist getting involved in dangerous or inappropriate situations or activities.
  • Get to know your child’s friends. If issues or problems arise, share your concerns with their parents.
  • Help your child develop self-confidence. Kids who feel good about themselves are less vulnerable to peer pressure.
  • Develop backup plans to help kids get out of uncomfortable or dangerous situations. For example, let them know you’ll always come get them, no questions asked, if they feel worried or unsafe.

If your child has ongoing difficulties with peer pressure, talk to his or her teacher, principal, school counselor or family doctor. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s mood, self-esteem or behavior, consider a consultation with a trained and qualified mental health professional.

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