Bright Side
Bright Side

10 Tips to Prevent Your Children From Being Negatively Influenced by Their Friends

Social pressure can be defined as the feeling of being coerced into doing the same things that your peers do in order to be accepted and liked in a group. Although it is possible to be under the negative influence of others from a young age, it is more common for this situation to occur during adolescence, as young people want to fit in and there is a fear of being rejected or criticized. This may make them more vulnerable to doing what others do, even if it is wrong or risky.

At Bright Side, we gathered 10 tips that could help parents to guide their children in coping with social pressure. Before continuing, we want to remind you that this is an informative article and that you should consult specialists, like educators and psychologists, to help give you better support.

1. Try to maintain good communication with your children.

Maintaining good communication and strengthening your relationship with your children is fundamental to overcoming difficult moments as a family. It is advisable for parents to let them know that they are always willing to listen to them and talk about any topic with them. In this way, you will be creating a foundation for them to trust you and feel that they can have conversations about uncomfortable situations, like social pressure.

To achieve good communication, take turns listening to what each other has to say. At all times avoid aggressiveness, being harsh, not listening, and blaming. It is advisable to ask questions and share your concerns about something, instead of assuming and criticizing.

2. Meet their friends.

It is important to get to know your children’s friends. It is possible to do this by inviting them into your home, offering them a safe and pleasant space where they can hang out, with appetizing food and good humor. This allows the host parents to establish rules of conduct and, in turn, to better understand what they talk about, what interests them, and what concerns them.

Another tip is to reach out to the parents in the friendship group to get a sense of the family values and ways of parenting that they share. In addition, having good relationships with them can help obtain relevant information when the children spend time in other homes or are supervised at different events by other adults, for example: who they will be with, who will take care of them, what time they will arrive.

3. Encourage them to meet new people.

One of the reasons why they may give in to social pressure is that they want to have friends, be accepted, and belong to a group that gives them security. If parents encourage and support their children to practice various activities where they can meet new peers, they will have the opportunity to cultivate friendships in different environments and avoid wanting to fit into just one.

4. Teach them to reflect on the consequences of unsafe behaviors.

To help kids make safer decisions, in addition to teaching them what behaviors are wrong or risky, it is advisable that they be prompted to reflect on the consequences of what their actions might cause to themselves and others. These ideas may help:

  • If they participate in a plan to harm another child, the child could get hurt and feel sad. You might ask them something like: Can you think about how you would feel if you were in their place?
  • If they break rules or misbehave at school, tell them they could be expelled, lose privileges at home (such as field trips or playtime), and that it could affect their grades.
  • If they think it’s a joke to steal something from a store and is supported by their friends, it’s important for them to know that this could have legal consequences and that it’s not a game.
  • Before they do something they are unsure about doing, they might ask themselves: Will this make me feel proud of myself afterward?

5. Come up with a “safe” word in case they need help.

This is a practice that can get youngsters out of trouble when they feel uncomfortable or fearful in a situation. Special code words or phrases will allow them to make a call or send a message to tell their parents to come looking for them, without telling their friends the real reason, because they may be embarrassed or ashamed.

For example, if a teenager is at a party and feels uncomfortable, they can call their parents or send them a message with the phrase they agreed on before for those situations, like, “Mom, I have a bad headache, can you look for me?” That way, without asking any more questions, the mother will know she needs your help.

6. Let them know it’s okay to say “no” sometimes.

Even for adults, it can sometimes be difficult to say “no.” That’s why it’s important for parents to look at how they set limits or refuse to do certain things. Modeling by example is key — in addition to reassuring them that it’s okay to say “no,” it’s great if they can also see how their family members set limits respectfully and clearly by saying, “No, that’s not okay for me” or “I can’t right now.”

Being alone in front of a group and having to say no can be overwhelming at times for them, If they have friends with similar values perhaps they can find some support so that together they can refuse to do the wrong thing without fear of ridicule.

7. Teach them other strategies to respond if they can’t say “no” directly.

Sometimes they may not want to say no outright, so parents can give their children other strategies. They may tell them to place “blame” on them for refusing to do something they think is wrong or dangerous. One argument they might use is this or a similar one: “Are you kidding? My parents will ground me for a month if I do that.”

Another alternative is to propose to their classmates to do another activity that is more fun or interesting than the incorrect behavior their friends are proposing at that moment.

8. Practice role-playing so that they learn how to handle a proposal they want to reject.

In addition to giving them ideas for how they can respond to a situation where they are pressured, parents can suggest role-playing (as if it were a rehearsal for a play or a scene from a favorite series). This practice can help parents teach children how to be respectful and firm when they disagree with something.

For example, if there’s a child who has been exposed to teasing at school, parents can ask the child to play with the friend who is teasing them and the child will expose a situation similar to what they are going through. Then, the adult has the opportunity to suggest an appropriate phrase, that is both respectful and witty, to use to respond by playing the role of the child.

9. Limit and monitor the time they spend online.

Nowadays, the digital environment is a medium where children and adolescents can be exposed to social pressure, so it is advisable for parents and caregivers to set limits considering the age of their children. Here are some tips that could be useful:

  • Limit the time they spend on the Internet, distributed in balance with other activities like homework, family time, and extracurricular activities.
  • Monitor the content they consume: check the ratings of TV or streaming shows, movies, and video games that they watch. You can also review their internet search history and view the apps they have on their phone.
  • Parents can make it a habit to watch movies and series as a family, and surf the internet together. This way they can analyze what they watch and reinforce family values.
  • Ask them which celebrities or influencers they admire and inquire about the aspects they value about them, to see if there is something specific that should be explained to them about the difference between what the person shows on their social networks and the other side that is not being published.
  • Be informed about issues like cyberbullying and explain to adolescent children about the practices that can harm them when they are online.

10. Help them develop a healthy dose of self-esteem.

It is very important for parents to help their children have healthy self-esteem and self-confidence because this makes them less likely to give in to pressure from others. Respecting their preferences, praising their achievements and good behaviors, as well as showing them that you trust them and that they can make good decisions are some aspects that could contribute in this sense.

Which of these tips would you like to start implementing in your family? Can you share any other tips with the parents reading this for how they can teach their children how to deal with peer pressure?

Got some cool photos or stories and want to be featured on Bright Side? Send them all right HERE and right now. Meanwhile, we’re waiting!

Bright Side/Family & kids/10 Tips to Prevent Your Children From Being Negatively Influenced by Their Friends
Share This Article