Talking to Kids about Peer Pressure | Proactive Parenting


Talking to Kids about Peer Pressure | Proactive Parenting

Peer pressure. As parents, we’re going to have to tackle it with our kids, but when? And how? 

We endeavor to instill in our 7-year-old son the importance of character, values and kindness. But he won’t be with us all the time, and there will always be opportunities for “teaching moments,” as we like to call them in our house.

Recently we had a teaching moment that involved peer pressure.

I was having dinner with a friend at a local pizza restaurant. Our kids were happily playing on the patio, along with lots of other kids. I noticed my son and another little boy seemed to hit it off. My son had brought some of his own toys and they were sharing them.

While engaged in conversation with my friend, I lost track of checking on my son. I looked around and found him and his new “buddy” aiming a nerf gun at a group of girls sitting on the lawn. The nerf gun belonged to the other boy. But my son had it in his hands and the other child was helping him aim at the girls. I immediately called my son over, and the other boy suddenly disappeared.

“Were you guys shooting at those girls? You know we don’t do that.” 

“Well, we were aiming at them, but the nerf bullets weren’t hitting them,” he said. Then the other boy appeared and my son said to him, “Sorry, my mom says I can’t shoot for you anymore.” Wait a minute? You are apologizing to him for doing his dirty work? I don’t think so.

On the way home we discussed what happened. Apparently the other child wanted to shoot the girls, but didn’t want to get in trouble, so he recruited my son to do it for him. So I talked with him about right and wrong, and explained how the other child wanted to do something that wasn’t nice or kind, but he probably knew it was wrong, so he wanted my son to do it. And friends don’t do that to each other.

“Why would he do that, mom? That’s not very nice.”

“Well, I don’t really know, but obviously he knew it wasn’t right and found someone like you to do it. That’s why it’s so important not to listen to other kids that want you to do unacceptable things. Do you understand?”

“Yes. I should have let him get in trouble himself for wanting to shoot at those girls!”

“Actually, you probably should have said, ‘I’m not going to do that’ and walked away.”

While I know this isn’t a “one and done” incident and there will be more of these moments in our future, we proactively have conversations with our son about peer pressure, listening to his heart and remaining confident in his decisions.

Because it’s one thing to talk about “what if” situations with your kids and the best way to respond, but it’s hard when they’re in the middle of it and want to be liked, accepted, etc.

We want him to know the importance of standing strong in his convictions, whether they are popular or not, and if a “friend” wants him to do something that he knows isn’t right, they aren’t a true friend.

Our kids are never too young to start building within them a foundation of values, morals and character.