Peer pressure is an inevitable part of life. Most every person feels an innate urge to fit in, to be accepted and wanted. And our children are faced with these pressure's every day of their young lives. Pressure to fit in, pressure to be cool, pressure to be funny, pressure to look a certain way or act a certain way. Pressure to fit a mold predestined by their friends, one that changes all the time. And the question that many parents ask themselves is how can they prepare and help their children navigate through this intense time in their lives?
There are a number of tips and tricks, but the most important thing you can do for your child is to simply have a relationship with them. If you start at an early age building a relationship with your child and keeping the lines of communication open, they will come to you when they have a problem. And even if they don't, you will know them well enough to be aware when a problem is arising. It is never too late to start a relationship with your child. Spend time with them each day, ask them questions about their lives, show genuine concern and interest in who they are and what they do.
Secondly, it is important to surround your kids with the right kind of pressure. You will never know every child as closely as you may want to, and kids are kids... even the best of them will make mistakes. However, try to place your kids in situations where they have good role models to look up to. People who are unique and different and admired because of those differences. This will instil in your child a desire to make a name for themselves that doesn't fit the standard set to them. Put your kids in youth groups, day camps, sports, etc. Get them involved in extra-curricular activities and continually monitor their support system.
Thirdly, make your house the place to be. Buy the big screen TV, the trampoline. As frustrating as it can be to have additional children running through your house, it means that they are under your roof. You are aware of who their friends are, how late they are staying up, what they are doing. Although you don't have control, you at least have knowledge... and knowledge is power.
Finally, teach your children how to withstand pressure. Oftentimes they truly do not want to smoke that cigarette but they feel too self-concious and embarrassed to decline. Talk to them about it! Bring up stories from your youth that will help your children relate to you. Give them ways to turn someone down jokingly without feeling like a fool. Give them the tools they need, the information they need, and the support they need to stand on their own two feet.
The reality is, if your kids truly want to do something there isn't a whole lot you can do about it. So arm them. Teach them about the consequences of sleeping around, or drugs, or alcohol... help them not desire it. And them give them the tools and the confidence to speak up for themselves.