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Parenting In The Face Of Peer Pressure

Nov 21, 2007
There will come a time in every parent's life when the influence he or she has on a child seems to take a back seat to the influence the child's friends have.

That time is known as "adolescence" and it can be the toughest period of a child's upbringing for even the strongest of parents.

When kids reach puberty, and it seems that they are reaching it at an increasingly earlier age these days, they begin to undergo certain psychological changes on their way to becoming independent adults, which have profound effects on their outlook and behavior.

They want establish their own identities, and start experimenting with different behaviors. Yet at the same time, they are curiously prone to succumbing to peer pressure when deciding which behaviors to adopt.

While the need for independence and the need to establish relationships beyond their family circles are essential parts of the maturing process, they leave teens experiencing peer pressure at risk of engaging in dangerous behaviors like drug and alcohol use.

The kids most likely to succumb to that sort of peer pressure are probably already having difficulty in school, and might even be depressed or struggling with self-esteem.

If you have a child entering adolescence, there are some strategies you can adopt for parenting in the face of peer pressure. The most obvious one is to surrender to the fact that your child's friends are going to assume a more important role in his or her life, and to make that reality a part of your "parenting in the face of peer pressure" plan.

Help you child find friends who have the same sort of values you would like to see your child develop, from their attitudes towards schoolwork, drug, alcohol, and tobacco use, to the consideration they show for everyone else, and not just for the in-crowd.

Learning to pick your battles is a big part of successfully parenting in the face of peer pressure. One of the classic signs that a child is feeling peer pressure is that he or she will start requesting wardrobe additions which you might find questionable, or come home with a somewhat disturbing hairstyle, or even show up with a small metal ring protruding from a body part.

If your newly decorated child is performing well academically, avoiding drugs, sex, alcohol, and tobacco, and not being an overly disruptive influence on the household, let the exterior changes go. If you avoid power struggles on the small issues, the big issues may never get very big.

Parenting in the face of peer pressure also means that you never send you child off into the peer pressure cauldron without support.

Keep communicating and, more importantly, living your values; it's a lot easier to for kids to walk away from a temptation when they know there is something worthwhile to walk towards. You might be surprised to learn just how much positive influence you can have on your kids when you are asleep in bed at 1:00 AM.
About the Author
Matt Garrett 2007 www.PositiveParentingHandbook.com Get your Free 12 Part Ecourse on Positive Parenting for Raising Healthy, Happy and Smart Kids What Makes a Good Parent.
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