Desiring to fit in and be accepted by one’s peers is a struggle we all face at an early age. Unfortunately, some of us made poor decisions to get the approval we sought from our peers. Others of us stood our ground but were bullied ruthlessly because of it. Sadly, peer pressure and bullying are very common issues most, if not all, kids will face eventually. As a parent, we want to do all we can to teach our kids how to respond to these issues. But it’s hard to know how. Here are a few tips to help you start formulating a plan for your own kiddos.
Teach Your Kids to Respond to Peer Pressure & Bullying
Establish basic house rules.
Teaching your kids from a young age how you expect them to treat others, even if someone isn’t very nice, will go a long way. You can teach your kids how to use kindness even in the face of teasing or peer pressure. Another good lesson to learn is how to walk away from a fight or argument. These lessons will help them navigate other kids’ bad behavior with grace.
Help your kids “practice” how they might respond to various scenarios with role-playing. You pretend to be a bully or a pushy friend and have your child practice his or her reactions. If they get flustered, reverse the roles and show them good ways to respond.
Be selective about friends.
Encourage your kids to choose friends who act as good friends should. Kids should seek out friends who are kind, respectful, and make good choices. If they are hanging out with children who act out or encourage bad behavior, suggest that they start hanging out with other friends with better attitudes and influences. Help facilitate those better friendships by inviting the “good” friends over after school.
Think about the consequences first.
Kids need to learn that their actions have consequences. Hopefully, they will learn this through your discipline of smaller infractions as they grow. Teach them that following peer pressure into a bad decision will be met with consequences, and remind them to consider what those consequences may be should they make the wrong choice.
Allow them to use you as the bad guy.
Tell your kids that if they need to get out of a bad situation, they can always use you as their scapegoat. For instance, “Ugh! My parents are such losers. They will kill me if they found out (and they did last time) so I’m gonna pass.”
Build their self-esteem.
Kids with high self-esteem care less about what other kids think about them. Children who feel good about themselves, confident in their decisions, and have other supportive friends will have a much easier time saying no to bad choices.
Personally, I am a fan of reading aloud to my kids about issues like this. It allows them to ask questions and follow the issue in a story, which can be more real for them than a hypothetical situation. These books are great resources to help teach your kids about peer pressure and bullying: