Now that Halloween is over, we are slowly starting to see signs of the holidays everywhere. Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and before we know it, Christmas will be here. With long breaks from school and everyone talking about the new gadget they hope to get, it is important to shed some light on the peer pressure our kids may experience during the holidays. This can be especially true for older kids and adolescents.
There are many types of peer pressure. Some peer pressure can result in negative outcomes; some can result in positive outcomes. More often than not, we associate peer pressure with the negative outcomes. Even as adults, we too can experience peer pressure; we need to buy that expensive car we can’t afford to “keep up with the Jones.” This, in turn, causes us more anxiety. This is an example of a negative outcome. On the other hand, an example of a positive outcome could be something such as contributing to the same charity your peer group.
Kids experience the same pressure in a different way. For kids, the positive peer pressure can lead to good outcomes such as going to the gym, leading to better health and stress relief, studying harder at school or attending college. Nonetheless, the word ‘pressure’ has a negative connotation. It is still peer pressure whether negative or positive outcomes result. That said, it is important to speak to your child about being independent in their thoughts, actions and goals and above all, what it means to be a true friend. Many times, kids are trying so hard to fit in and be liked that they can lose sight of who they truly are and who has their best interest in mind. Teaching kids independence and that it is ok to say ”no” are crucial. This is especially true in the early teenage years when kids are beginning to explore more the world around them. Getting caught up with the wrong crowd is undesirable and can lead to bad life decisions. Let your child know you are willing to be their sounding board and the safe place they so desire and search for. Be a friend, but above all, be their role model and teach them that it’s ok to be different. Teach your kids how to handle peer pressure. Know their peer groups and spend time with them and their peers. Often, kids act differently around adults; however, the more time you spend with your child and their peers eventually that negative influence ( if any) will manifest itself. Peers will have a hard time hiding their true self for long. Role- play situations so you can help shape how your child will respond to peer pressure in the the future. And above all be consistent and disciplined. A hard no will stay a hard no and does not ever become maybe. Do not undermine your own values and be firm in your feelings towards situations. This will lead to strong, determined kids and adolescents.During the holidays, observe your child’s interactions whether if it’s with family members or friends. The holidays can be a vulnerable time for some. We often get wrapped up in the busyness of it all that we forget our kids are exposed to stressful situations. They can feel the pressure and sometimes they can find themselves not knowing how to react so they copy others to fit in and be liked. The holidays are a wonderful opportunity to spend time with your loved ones. Spend quality time and it is a great time to bond with your kids and family. Happy Holidays!