Peer pressure is one of those unfortunate aspects of adolescence that affects kids of every race, status and social class. Examples of it are all around us from real life experiences to those found in the televisions shows, movies and music that profoundly influence every aspect of society. One needs to look no further than young Hollywood stars, such as Lindsay Lohan or Britney Spears, to see the harmful effects of falling prey to peer pressure. Dads face great challenges when trying to assist their children in dealing with the emotions of peer pressure and how to stay strong in the face of it. The difficulties are two-fold in that dads may find difficulty relating to the challenges of peer pressure in today's society and children often view their dad as out of touch with what is going on in their world. So, how do you combat this? Here are some tips:
- Anticipate potential scenarios: When your child has reached an appropriate age, begin discussing situations in which peer pressure may be a factor. Encourage them to be honest about the choices they may be tempted to make and why. Make sure no subjects are off limits, including sex, drugs, stealing, sneaking out and more. Use pop culture examples to let them know you are still aware of the things going on in their world. Although it may be difficult for you to hear your child admit they may be tempted to do the wrong thing, this is your opportunity to talk to them about their decisions and all possible outcomes and consequences. Moreover, the conversation you have with them now may play a role in their decision-making process should they find themselves in a bad situation.
- Don't be the judge and jury: Nothing will cause a child to clamp down quicker than an angry, judgmental father. For example, if your kid admits to cutting class with friends, don't automatically yell and ground them. Instead, talk about why they did what they did and why the outcome of their actions could have been unsafe. Listen effectively to your child when they come to you about problems with peer pressure. Pay attention to everything they are saying --- and what they are not. Remember that physical expressions, combined with words, can give you great insight into the range of emotions your child is experiencing.
- Reinforce self-esteem: This is all about reinforcing their self-esteem and sense of self-worth. In many instances, this very ideal is what separates the children who give in to peer pressure from those who do not. Children who have a strong, core value system, close-knit family and a keen understanding of their own self-worth are more likely to be leaders within their circle. This means they are less likely to blindly follow the crowd, particularly when it comes to situations clearly have no benefit to them. Talk to your child about standing apart from the crowd and focus on their best attributes to enhance their self-esteem.
- Schedule family time: No matter how busy all of you are, make room in your daily schedules for family time. This helps to guard against negative outside influences in your child's life because it lets them know there are people in their corner no matter what they do. Kids tend to trend in the right direction when they know they have a lot of support at home from parents and siblings. Family meals, activities after dinner, helping with homework, weekend outings and more all create a loving environment for your child. This gives them the strength and the courage to fight against peer pressure challenges.
- Maintain trust: Trust is the most important aspects of your relationship with your child. Helping them to battle against peer pressure means ensuring they are willing to talk to you about what is going on in their life. Kids will only do this if they do not think you are likely to blow up about every thing they say. Keep an open line of communication with your child. The key to doing this successfully is balance. When they bring a dilemma to your attention, listen before you do or say anything. Take action when it is appropriate, but choose your battles wisely. Particularly if the situation is not serious, you will get much farther in the eyes of your kid by letting them talk about their decisions without lecture or consequence. You may find that they draw their own conclusions about the situation without you ever having to say a word.
- Have realistic expectations: Be realistic in your expectations of your child and use your personal experiences to communicate effectively. Dads often forget that they were once prey for the temptations of peer pressures themselves. Talk with your children about situations where you did not give in to peer pressure as well as times you did. Make them aware of the consequences you may have experienced as a result. Do not overwhelm them with strict expectations and reassure them you will understand when they fail. This will not only reinforce your bond, but will also help your child to feel more comfortable coming to you with problems.