A Guide to Understanding Peer Pressures Your Child May Face
Just remember, saying 'no' doesn't make you a bad parent
16 July 2017
You might be finding that as your pre-teen gets closer to their teenage years, peer pressure - which is a pressure to do what other children are doing, or to follow certain norms of behaviour, dress and attitude - will become more and more prevalent in your child's daily life.
As your child grows older, you'll find that life is about exploring what's beyond the family; they'll be identifying their peer group, their friends, and ultimately learning how to be different from their family.
This stage of their life may bring arguments between you, as you may not like or approve of the behaviour that they're now adopting. So here's some advice for you parents on how to manage this part of your child's life.
1. Understand what they're going through
During this stage, your child is stating their claim to be different, and attempting to draw a line between both who you are, and who they are - and this change won't last only now, but will pave the foundations for their future character, too.
To help and understand them though, know that this isn't necessarily a process of breaking away - but instead a time to embrace change. The piercings, computer games and different clothing trends won't last, but their realisation that they can be different from you and the family will remain.
2. Appreciate that it is an important phase for them
For your child, whether pre-teen or teenager, being influenced by a peer group is an important stage; but remember, it's also just a phase.
Like all of the other 'omg I'll never get over this' stages of raising your child, it will eventually end and will no doubt become part of your family's 'funny moments in history'.
3. The kinds of peer pressure you can expect
While there is a huge range of influences depending on your child's age, there are some 'life experiences' people may argue that we all have to go through; from relationships, to quirky clothing styles, staying out late, wanting expensive technology, alternative beliefs, bad habits like smoking, piercings, tattoos and wanting to go out with their friends without adults present.
4. Know which battles to choose
As a parent, you need to decide which things you can and can't allow your child to partake in, and remain consistent at all times. Whether it's a piercing, or an iPhone or a revealing piece of clothing... There may be some things you're just simply uncomfortable with them doing.
You have to draw a line somewhere, and no matter how much your child pushes to be like their friends, the answer is, and must remain, a firm no.
5. Allow certain things, with limitations
Of course, that doesn't mean you have to say no to everything. You may actually be comfortable with certain things they'd like to do - like staying out a little later, or having a tablet or smartphone.
But that doesn't mean they should get free reign - if it makes you feel better, you should set limitations. If they wish to stay out past curfew, only extend it by an hour or so, or they must let you know where they are at a certain time every time they're out. If you allow them to have an electronic device, restrict their access with parental controls or cap their usage so they don't rack up long, long bills.
6. Don't believe the 'everyone has got one' excuse
Quite frankly, not everyone has one... And the 'everyone has got one' line will become a familiar mantra with you throughout these years. It's important to remember that this is hardly ever true.
So yes, while one friend might have the brand new iPhone, or another has a new pair of designer shoes - that isn't necessarily everyone.
7. Saying no doesn't make you a bad parent
Remember this at all times: saying no does NOT make you a bad parent. At times you may feel as though it's a constant struggle between you and your child(ren), but it's also important that you listen to, respect and understand their motivations. Talk to them and discuss exactly why they would like to have or do a certain thing, explain your own concerns so they understand your point of view and you'll find it'll be easy to reach a point of agreement that's comfortable with you both.
8. Involve them in the decision making
There are certain parts of your child's life where their input might benefit the situation and prevent tension between you both. For instance - clothes shopping. Perhaps it's a pressure they're facing from their peers to dress or wear certain styles of clothing, so to combat the pressure include them when shopping.
After all, and we're sure many parents will agree, you might find they're more likely to enjoy and wear clothes that they've helped to pick or chosen themselves entirely... Which means, at least you'll get your money's worth out of those skinny jeans or expensive trainers.