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Conform or Be Condemned. Help Your Kid Overcome Peer Pressure!

A teenager looks at his phone while text bubbles surround him that exerting peer pressure.

Peer pressure. Doesn't your gut tighten when you think about your kid facing it? Maybe you even feel anxious if they spend time with friends when you're not around. What if your kid ends up in a tough situation where they can't resist negative peer pressure?

Here's the good news. You don't have to live with this plaguing anxiety anymore. The thought of your kid facing peer pressure doesn't have to leave you feeling helpless. Instead, there are strategies you can put in place now to equip your kid against the choice:


Conform or be condemned. Let's talk about helping your kid overcome peer pressure!


Before we deep dive into these strategies, let's make sure we're starting at the same place.

When all is said and done, there is no magic trick to combat peer pressure.

That means your kid is going to struggle and make mistakes. They will likely give in to peer pressure at some point, no matter how well you’ve tried to prepare them for it. In fact, expecting them to never fall victim to the effects of peer pressure sets them up for crippling failure.

Avoid this pitfall by instilling a sense of self-compassion in your kid right from the start.

Let them know that making mistakes has no impact on their self-worth or your opinion of them. This is key to creating open lines of communication and a strong sense of trust between you both so that you can stay involved in their life instead of being shut out.

Now that we've laid that foundation, let's dive into some helpful strategies to teach your kids about combating peer pressure.


Your Kid Should Trust Their Gut To Help Them Resist Peer Pressure.

Imagine this for a moment. Your kid is hanging out with friends and they decide to hop on one of the risky social media platforms. Their friends say it's just for fun but your kid feels a tugging uncertainty about joining in. It feels wrong but they're unsure if they're just overreacting to the situation. They question their feelings so much that eventually they ignore their gut and join their friends.

What could've potentially changed this situation?

Your kid needed to know that their gut feeling can be relied upon to recognize situations of peer pressure. Especially as tweens and teens who just want to fit in, kids can easily question themselves so much that they eventually give in and go along with whatever their friends are doing. The key to combatting this starts at home.

Your kid needs you to help build confidence in themselves.

Start building resilience in your kid by clearly teaching them what is right and wrong for your family (don't forget to give them the WHY, not just the WHAT about your beliefs!). As your kid develops a strong inner compass, they'll become sensitive to situations of peer pressure. This inner compass will also help them develop the self-confidence they need to trust their gut feelings and act upon those. Remember, it will take time to develop this but with your continued involvement, your kid can learn to trust themselves so that they can face these situations on their own and respond the right way.


Your Kid Should Plan Ahead For Peer Pressure Situations.

Think about the example we just discussed of your kid's friends and risky social media behavior. Even if you feel like a social media platform is wrong for your family and you've talked to your kid about it, that still might not be enough to help them walk away from the situation. Why?

It's easy to know something is wrong. It's much harder to actually resist the peer pressure to do it.

Walking away from situations where they feel pressure to do something they know is wrong takes an immense amount of bravery from your kid. They have to be able to say "no" to their friends and, in most cases, that will also require them to defend their decision. In a perfect world, your kid's friends would accept their decision without resistance but this just isn't reality. Especially if your kid is surrounded by toxic friends, they'll most likely be met with resistance, teasing, and continued peer pressure to change their mind.

It's simply unfair to expect our kid to handle that kind of situation without preparing for it ahead of time at home. This requires an honest discussion between you and your kid about the reality of peer pressure and the difficulty involved in resisting its influence. Next, brainstorm together some explanations your kid can give in situations when they've decided to go against the flow of what everyone else is doing.

Now, here's the hard part.

At the end of the day, we have to let our kids blame us as a last-resort excuse.

If everything else has failed, we have to be okay with giving our kids permission to say "I can't do that. My parents would kill me." It comes down to choosing between being to be the "cool" parent to our kid's friends or giving our kid protection when the situation really calls for it. Our choice should always be to help our kids. This can't be an implied decision but something we need to talk over when we're sitting down to prepare them ahead of time to face peer pressure.


Your Kid Should Have A Secret Code For When The Peer Pressure Is Too Much.

Here's the truth. Your kid may end up in a situation of peer pressure that has escalated far beyond hopping on a questionable social media site. They may find themselves in situations where risky behaviors are encouraged and actual danger is involved. As parents, we hope this never happens but we have to prepare ourselves and our kids for it ahead of time.

Decide on a special phrase that your kid can use to tell you they need out of a dangerous situation.

Keep this phrase as casual as possible. It could be something as simple as "Hey, I have a headache." Whatever it ends up being, make sure your kid understands that this phrase is something they shouldn't be afraid to use. It doesn't come with strings and judgment attached. Your first assumption won't be that your kid sought out trouble but that they happened to be in the wrong situation at the wrong time. If this isn't the case, it doesn't matter how many special codes you come up with. Your kid will never choose to use them because they'll fear it end up with them being punished.

Avoid that pitfall entirely by letting your kid know that they can call or text you with the secret code at any time and you'll immediately be on your way to pick them up. By demonstrating your commitment to keeping them safe, you'll build the trust necessary to stay involved in their lives instead of being shut out in situations where it really matters.


We Can't Shelter Our Kids From Peer Pressure Completely But We Can Prepare Them.

Ultimately, nothing but shutting up our kids at home forever will prevent them from experiencing peer pressure. It doesn't matter where they go. At some point, they will face it, and the best thing we can do as parents is to prepare them for it. We need to equip them with every tool we can, including becoming their best support if a situation turns dangerous. The key is to get involved as soon as possible so you can help your kid face these situations with self-compassion and self-confidence.