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You want your children to be strong enough to stand up against the crowd and do the right thing, but peer pressure is tough. It can be especially difficult for kids. They may know the right thing to do, but not have the strength of will to do it when faced with going against the crowd.
You can help them build their strength of will to stand against negative peer pressure with one simple statement:
My mom said…
From an early age, I have told my children that I am big enough to take the blame. When they do not want to do something a friend has asked them to do or do not think they should do it, but do not feel strong enough to stand up against the crowd, they can blame me. They can say, “My mom said I can’t do that.”
It can be helpful to role play various situations they might encounter so they are not caught off guard. You could pretend to be the friend and ask your child to do something he shouldn’t do. Encourage your child to respond as he would to his friend. Examples include:
- teasing someone about the way they look, talk, act, or activities they like
- stealing from a store
- sneaking out of a friend’s house
- reading a book/watching a movie/listening to a song they know is not appropriate
- going somewhere they know they shouldn’t go
As your child matures, repeat this activity. You will probably need to role play new situations he may encounter. Encourage him to respond with his own statement such as, “We shouldn’t do that.” or “I don’t believe that’s right.” Practicing what to say beforehand will make it easier for him to say it when confronted with a real situation. Remind him that he can always blame you if he doesn’t feel strong enough to stand up against the crowd, but encourage him to take the responsibility for his actions.