I did something, Terez,” my friend tells me one day. “Something bad.”
My stomach tightened as she told me that she had smoked. She said it was an awful experience, and the cigarette made her feel sick. “I will never do it again,” she said, and she never has.
Why did she do it? Peer pressure.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines peer pressure as a strong influence from different racial groups, especially children, on members of that group to behave as everyone else does. Peer pressure influences children into getting involved in alcohol, stealing, sex, and drugs.
The book Self-Destructive Behavior in Children and Adolescents states, “The youthful are most often introduced or ‘turned on’ to the various drugs by a close friend whose intentions may be to share an exciting or pleasurable experience.”
Your children might not have any bad motives when they get involved in questionable conduct. They might only be seeking association. What can you do to help your children combat harmful peer pressure?
Talk to your child. Allow your child to express them self openly. For instance, your 9-year-old might want to see Saw VII, like his peers, but before you refuse his request, first, acknowledge his feelings.
Dr. Susan Bartell, family psychologist, and author of The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask, says in the article But Everyone Else Is Going, “It’s a good idea to say, ‘I’m sorry you’re feeling so left out. That must be frustrating, and you’re probably mad at me. But, everyone’s family is different and has its own rules. The rules we make are to make sure that you are healthy and safe, even if you don’t like them.’”
In other instances, such as when your child might be tempted to smoke a cigarette or drink a beer, you can hold a practice session with your youth to help him or her prepare how to respond when confronted by their peers about any negative issue including race and racism. That way, the child will know how to act before a sticky situation arises. Additionally, your child must recognize that making good choices in life are for his or her best interests.
Dr. Mary Lamia, a clinical psychologist in Marin County, and host of Kid Talk with Dr. Mary on Radio Disney in San Francisco/Sacramento, explained in the article, Peer Pressure and Your Child: What You Need to Know, that parents should limit their children’s contact with damaging influences. Lamia says, “In the end, if you do these things, you teach your child to be a leader rather than a follower. That’s what leadership is about — thinking for yourself.”