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Gaya-Gaya Sa Kaklase? Teach Your Child To Handle Peer Pressure Well
PHOTO BY @jacoblund/iStock
  • Having friends is one of the biggest blessings in life, and school is one of the common places we find them. Your young child will be happy and confident making friends and having them around. However, in the course of finding lifelong friends, she is also likely to encounter peer pressure and the need to conform in the beginning. 

    Believe it or not, peer pressure can start as early as preschool. It manifests in the little things, such as kids’ preferences for clothes, what brand of pencil case to get, what character to come as in a party — all of which may be pushed down on another child if they wish to become their friend (uh-oh, is that a mean girl in the making?).  

    Cynthia Langtiw, Psy.D., an assistant professor at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, tells Parents, “Once kids are in kindergarten or first grade, they become much freer with their opinions, and they may try to talk their friends into being interested in the same things they are.” And kids being kids, your child is likely to follow what she’s asked to do because she wouldn’t want to lose her friends. 

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    So as not to put your children on the receiving end of this kind of treatment, experts share how we can teach them to stand their ground. 

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    Help your child recognize the behavior. 

    Explaining to a young child such a broad concept may be too much, but if you use examples of what peer pressure and bullying is and what it’s not may be easier for a preschooler to comprehend. You can say, “It’s alright for your classmate to show you her Frozen doll, but it’s not alright if she says you can’t be friends anymore because you don’t have one, too.”

    “Explain that it’s fun when friends share their new toys, games, and ideas with you, but it becomes peer pressure when they try to talk or tease you into changing what you like,” says Fran Waifish, Ph.D., a child and family psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent.  

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    Teach your child how to respond.

    When kids feel like they have no other choice, they feel obligated to do as the other person says just to keep the friendship. It’s important they know they have a choice. If, say, your child’s friend is asking her to wear an Anna costume to a party so they could both come as Elsa and Anna of Frozen, but your child would rather not wear a dress, she can come as Olaf or Kristoff to still please her friend without compromising her own taste.

    At the same time, help your child to tell someone if she is not comfortable with an idea, or if she needs more time to think about it, so that she remains true to herself without making the other person feel rejected.

    Build her up.

    A child who is confident with herself is less likely to seek approval from others and conform against her will. Encourage her to voice out her thoughts at home, and really listen to her.

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    Says Dr. Waifish, “Listening to her without judgment — whether it’s that pink is better than blue, or broccoli is grosser than peas — will also give her the confidence to speak her mind around friends and hold fast to what she likes.”

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