Peer pressure is a big deal in the world of parenting. I'm sure you can relate! Your kids are probably constantly telling you that other kids are allowed to do what they are not allowed to do. You feel guilty for not letting your children do what their neighbors or classmates are doing. And yet, you know that some kinds of behavior are simply not healthy. Sure, the next-door neighbor's kid might be used to yelling at his siblings without getting in trouble. But you know that it is not a good habit for your child to get into. It might make your child angry if you forbid certain behaviors; but you know it will hurt them more if you let them act like that unchecked. Believe me, the struggle is real! As parents, we all have to deal with peer pressure at some point. And it is hard to know where to start.
Thankfully, I provide help for this type of situation. Here are four tips to help you when you feel the need to teach your kids differently than the other parents around you.
Be Involved with Your Children
The first and most important step is to be involved in your children's lives. Whatever other friends they have, they need to know that you are a friend who will stick by them through thick and thin. You are a person who really loves them and wants the best for them. Make it a habit of eating dinner together each evening. Ask how their day went; ask if they need help with anything. Schedule fun outings together and find times where you can just hang out and play with them. When you show your children that you care about them by investing in their lives, they will be far more prepared to listen to what you have to say.
Be Real with Your Kids
Don't shy away from talking honestly with your kids. It is far better to sit down and discuss this issue than to just say, "I don't care what other kids do. You're not allowed to do that." It is okay to be real. Let your kids know that different families have different rules, and that is fine. Sure, other kids may be allowed to act a certain way, say certain words, or play certain games. But you have made the decision that your kids will not do that kind of thing. Don't make excuses but give reasons if possible. Tell them you have their best interests at heart. Let them ask questions. Be real as you talk it over.
Be a Dependable Parent
Once you have made your rules clear, don't back down. Your children will learn to trust and respect you if you show them you mean what you say. Definitely do not be harsh or unnecessarily strict. But in situations where you have laid down clear directions for the good of your child, don't be afraid to act upon your previous word. Feel free to monitor your children's playtime with other friends. You can be fun and friendly while still keeping an eye out for what is going on between your kids and your neighbor's kids. Your children need to know that this is important to you.
Be a Kind Person
Always, always, always be kind. This includes being kind to both your children and other people's children. Never say, "That kid does that because he's dumb" or "She acts that way because she is not as good as you." You will have to acknowledge when other kids are wrong. But you can do it in a way that is thoughtful. Also, remember that peer pressure may be a big factor for your children. Obeying you will probably be a struggle for them. In light of this, consider rewarding obedience with special treats or replacing forbidden activities with other fun activities. For example, you might tell your child, "I don't want you to play that video game. But instead, I will take you go-carting."" This will help your children learn kindness and help them see that they are special to you.
Parenting is definitely not easy. And when other children's actions seem to take precedence in your child's life, it can definitely become a struggle. Peer pressure is no joke, for children or for adults. But, believe me, when you take action to do what is best for your child, it is definitely worth the effort. Watching your child grow up into a mature and polite young person is a joy that will far outlive the pain.
If you ever need a listening ear, make sure to contact me. I would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have and help you along in your parenting journey!