Before you can talk to your children about peer pressure, you must learn a bit more about it. You should know, for example, what is the difference between positive and negative peer pressure. You should also learn how to explain realistic methods of how to deal with negative peer pressure rather than parroting what you might've heard in the media. Peer pressure is a very real issue for children, and informed parents are better able to provide guidance.
Learn How to Identify Negative Effects of Peer Pressure
As you begin to talk to your children, you'll need to learn how to spot the effects of negative peer pressure up close. Is your child becoming more withdrawn? Is he or she radically changing his or her personality, often without much conviction? Does your child dread going to school? All of these can be signs of the negative impact of peer pressure, so learn how to identifying them early. Once you have a baseline, you can start to talk to your child. It's good to start the conversation before you see these signs, but an absolute necessity to hold a conversation after they appear.
Being Prepared to Listen
One of the most helpful things a parent can do is to provide a sympathetic ear. While you certainly want to talk to your child about how to resist negative peer pressure, you also need to know how that pressure is impacting your child in his or her real life. Simply being there to listen can remind your child that he or she has real value and that he or she has someone to whom he or she can turn. Listening without judgement can be an important tool in the fight against peer pressure.
Know When to Get Outside Help
Your child also needs to know that you are not a counselor and that you may not always be able to provide the help he or she needs. You should always be your child's rock and be willing to listen, but make yourself aware of a good peer pressure helpline so you or your child can call for help. You should also know that accessing self-help resources online is becoming more common for young people, and you should encourage your child to avail himself or herself of these resources. Going to a professional may be the best way to help your child out of a tough situation.
Be a Parent
Finally, make sure you're willing to jump in when it becomes necessary. You may need to stand up for your child sometimes, and you might need to let them stand on their own. If a problem is becoming unbearable at school, it's your job to be an adult and talk to the head of the school or to the child of the other parents. If a social situation is problematic, it may be your job to put a stop to it. While it's good to let your child stand on his or her own, it's just as important to learn when to step in.
Peer pressure is nothing to laugh at. It's something your child will have to deal with for the rest of their lives, so start teaching them effective ways to deal with its negative effects now. If you are lucky, your words will give your child the strength they need to rise above the herd. At the very least, you can provide a safe space for your child to get away from the pressures they experience in daily life - and for many, this refuge is more than enough.