Do not let your children succumb to peer pressure

You can help your child from being taken over by peer pressure from fellow children/youth and a group of individuals with similar interests.

Oct 31, 2023 - 07:26
Do not let your children succumb to peer pressure

Peer pressure is common at all ages. It is common among people with similar characteristics who may pursue similar interests when they get together. Although not everyone in the group may like what is done, they all end up walking together in agreement because they share a common goal.

You can help your child from being taken over by peer pressure from fellow children/youth and a group of individuals with similar interests.

Raising a confident child can help him/her avoid peer pressure. Self-confident children can express their feelings and emotions. They are easy to follow their minds and pursue their dreams, passions, and interests. They don’t have to follow what others are saying/doing due to pressure. They can stand on their own and say yes or no without fearing the negative consequences of their friends, and can therefore avoid very risky behaviours.

Nurturing independence in children can be a reward. Such children have an independent mind that makes them think through certain actions before being part of them. They are quick to decide whether it is of value to participate in whatever their friends indulge them in or not. It does not matter whether they are left alone or they work in a group. They can still thrive on their own. You can therefore teach them to be self-reliant, be on their own, and develop a sense of responsibility and accountability at a tender age.

Training your child in decision-making skills as early as 3 years old. Some children get engaged in anything because they lack decision-making power. They need to know when to say no or yes, no matter what. They should first think through something critically before taking part, analyze the consequences, make a cost-benefit analysis, review their decisions over and over, have time to evaluate their progress, successes, and failures, learn from the past, and be good enough to always make independent and well-informed decisions.

Enhance your children’s communication skills. Share your expectations now and then and let them know the family sets boundaries and rules. Help them learn how to freely express their views. Issues of discipline should be implemented when one crosses boundaries and involve them in deciding on the discipline strategy.

Don’t always shift goalposts because some children especially adolescents are stubborn, or unruly and throw tantrums. They will do something intentionally to test your patience, your ability to practice what you say (set boundaries), and get to know the clear side of who exactly you are. If they read your areas of weakness in implementing what you say, they will break the rules because they know you are just a “dog” that backs a lot but can never bite. This is why most children succumb to risky behaviours from their friends because they know back at home, mum or dad will only talk but they can’t do much beyond that.

It is also good to set realistic goals and expectations with your children if your child is to avoid succumbing to pressure. Communication creates bonding, strengthens healthy relationships, and improves their emotional well-being.

Be a good friend to your children and be involved in their daily lives. If you neglect them or don’t give them time, definitely they will find ways of filling the gap. And since they have friends available to meet their physical and emotional needs, they will lean on their side.  Know their friends, what they do together, and the times they like to be together as well. You can ask them what their interests are, what is common among them, and how they connect. As they say, “Tell me your friends, and I will tell you your behaviours”, knowing their friends will help you know their behaviours, and you can resonate with them about what your child does.

 The writer is the Executive Director of Hope Regeneration Africa, parenting coach, marriage counsellor, and founder – Men of Purpose mentorship program.

Dickson Tumuramye Executive Director - Hope Regeneration Africa, Writer, Child Advocate, Parenting Coach, Marriage Counselor, & Founder - Men of Purpose Mentorship Programme