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Back to School – Teaching Your Child How to Handle Peer Pressure
Lessons from a Former Teacher and Current Mother
Peer Pressure is something that has been around since the beginning of time. Lately the word “bullying” has entered the media and while nothing on a national scope has been done, we can at least find hope for the future as it it’s consequences become more known and understood. The problem of peer pressure is it’s grow and the stakes seem to get higher every single year. What used to be a concern about sneaking a drink or smoking a cigarette has now turned into a life or death struggle with drugs like heroine or crack. Peer pressure takes many forms and kids are only the first victims of it.
First, I don’t have all the answers. This is not to provide you with answers but to show how our child’s character and tolerance can grow in the home. So, how do you prepare your kid for peer pressure in school?
The first thing is to understand that it is not something to be taken lightly. Virtually every parent thinks “not my kid” and ends up being shocked to find out they are wrong. Every kid is at risk for peer pressure and that includes the youngest ones.
Start teaching them early what peer pressure is and why it is wrong. Peer Pressure can be a complex vocabulary phrase, but why not make your child aware of it’s meaning from the earliest age. It is not enough to simply talk about it, you have to show them. Role play with your kids at their level. Show them how a kid might use peer pressure to get them to do something they shouldn’t. When they see it in action, you will usually get a torrent of examples from them. Kids get it better than we think and will respond to your lead if you open the conversation. Having had experience or practice, they are more likely to dot he right thing when confronted with an example out of the home.
So much in our kid’s lives can be solved by simply opening up the lines of communication. Talk with your kids and listen to them when they answer. Kids will reveal their problems and their frustrations if you are willing to talk and listen on a regular basis. Trust has to grow, but eventually they will talk things over with you.
Once you have that open line of communication, have them agree to never do anything simply because other people want them to. Talk to them about being strong minded and doing what is right. Talk to them about that little voice inside that pops up when you are about to do something wrong. Cultivate that voice and show your child how to listen to it. Most importantly, if they do make that mistake. Teach them it is okay. Mistakes create lessons, lessons create an opportunity for growth. Just as important as teaching them to not peer pressure or “be mean” to others is teaching them how to apologize after they have had a bad day. Saying I am sorry can be just as hard as choosing to sit out of a bad decision made by your group of peers.
Peer pressure is going to be there and the best you can really hope for is that they will talk about it. I have started this with my youngest child that has entered Kindergarten. I asked her about a dozen questions about her day. What was the most fun? What did you do for Math? but I also sneak in some parental questions for learning experiences… Did anyone get in trouble today? What did they do? That opens the door for us to not only learn lesson for ourselves, but to learn lessons from others.
Some kids naturally deflect peer pressure and they are the ones that have a voice in their homes. They are the ones that talk about their day at the dinner table. Be the parent who is constantly wanting to know what is going on in their child’s life. Just because you are that parent, doesn’t guarantee a well-rounded child, but the probability of one has significantly gone up!
It starts in the home, it starts with you, it starts at a young age. Be there. Be present. Be Open. That is the best you can do!
Find more on Frugal Coupon Living in the Back to School Series.
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