We hear the term “peer pressure” being thrown around a lot these days. But what is peer pressure, really? Depending on the age and maturity level of your teen, it can look very different. I highly recommend starting the conversation about peer pressure with your kids in late elementary or early middle school so that the topic becomes commonplace between the two of you by the teen years. This way, if a serious situation arises that they don’t know how to handle, they will hopefully come and talk to you. If you’ve never discussed the topic of peer pressure before, don’t expect them to seek your help or guidance after the fact. Take the proactive approach.
Firstly, start off by asking your kids, “Do you know what peer pressure is?” This can get the ball rolling. You can talk about the classic definition of peer pressure, you can ask them to explain in their own words what they think it is and you can ask them to share examples with you that they’ve seen at school, on TV or read about in books. Then, take those examples (that your teen shared) and directly apply them to your child’s life. Create peer pressure scenarios using real people, names, locations and situations that are familiar to your child. See what your teen says or does once the example is REAL within the context of their own world and not just an external educational exercise. Create age-appropriate, but complex situations and see how your child handles them. This gives you the opportunity to witness how your child thinks through peer pressure and that will provide you with the perfect opportunity to give them the guidance and advice they may need.
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