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Dealing with peer pressure
Wietske Boon

Peer pressure usually occurs when a person is manipulated by others, especially friends, to do things he/she wouldn’t necessarily want to do. Peer pressure is sometimes so subtle, we are not even aware of it!

Peer pressure can be positive and negative. Friends can have a bad influence on a child, but good friends can also influence a child positively.

Negative peer pressure

Negative peer pressure can be described as any (usually unacceptable) behaviour forced onto someone. The child copying the negative behaviour usually does this with the hope of being accepted into the peer group. Even young children give in to peer pressure. You might have heard your child say: “But everyone at school has this toy, I also have to have it.” This also applies to brand-named clothes and shoes. Negative peer pressure can also be linked to programmes children watch on TV or games they play, although it is not suitable for them.

Peer pressure doesn’t occur once your child enters high school, it starts much sooner than that. Usually parents only start making children aware of peer pressure when the first incidences of peer pressure arise, such as when a group of children is caught using alcohol or cigarettes.
Start preparing your child on an early age to deal with peer pressure. Here are a few tips on how to help your child not to give in to peer pressure.

Positive peer pressure

The same as children can have a negative effect on other children; they can also have a positive effect on behaviour and support one another. Children are easily influenced by others, thus it is important to have the right friends who share the same values as you. Here are a few examples how peer pressure can be positive:

If you want your child to be exposed to positive rather than negative peer pressure, make sure you know your child’s friends. Good friendships are priceless.

Wietske Boon, Play Therapist, www.childtherapist.co.za, wietske@childtherapist.co.za

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