Coping with peer pressure

Your child is reaching the age now where they’ll probably be more influenced by their mates than you. How their schoolmates look, behave and talk will inevitably rub off on them.
Here’s how to cope with the change:

Fitting into the crowd

Once they’re in junior school, peer pressure can really start to kick in. They’ll probably demand clothes like their friends, a school bag like their best mate and want to listen to ‘their own’ music. It’s important that they feel part of their peer group, so don’t dismiss their requests out of hand. Your child will want to be accepted by their friends and feel good being part of the crowd. There’s nothing worse than being teased for looking ‘nerdy’, so if it means investing in a new school bag or pair of shoes, as long as it doesn’t break the bank, do it.

They won’t listen to me any more!

Sound familiar? It feels like you’re losing your child, doesn’t it? They will probably be starting to challenge your authority now and listening to their mates opinions rather than yours. Recognise that they’re growing up and that puberty is just around the corner, and try to cut them a bit of slack. Arguing all the time will get you nowhere.

But mum, everyone’s got them!

We’ve all heard that one before. From Nintendo Wii consoles and PSPs to designer labels, high-heeled shoes, spray tans and piercings. Don’t believe a word they say! Explain that you understand why they want something, but that just because their friends have it, they can’t always have it too. It’s important at this age that they learn about budgeting. When you go shopping together tell them what you’re willing to spend before you leave and try not to budge on that. Let them start to choose their own clothes. If at times you don’t like their choices, let it go. Remember, you’re not a bad parent if you say your child can’t have something, even if they make you feel like the cruellest mum on earth. Encourage them to save up for special things themselves.

They told me to!

Peer pressure can have an ugly side. If your child’s behaviour changes for the worse, they could be being influenced by another child to act out of character. Maybe your son has been nasty to another child or taken something and tells you: ‘but Charlie told me to.’ Try to get the facts before accusing another child, or your own child. Speak to their friends, to the teacher and to other parents to get the bigger picture. If you believe that your child’s telling the truth and that someone is influencing his behaviour, explain to him that’s it’s best if he keeps his distance for a while. Ask their teacher if your son could switch groups and work with the school to help your child cope.