submitted by Ron Seidman, VP/GM, A Child’s World ECE Centers
When should we begin to pay attention to peer pressure issues? The answer may be from the time your child is very young. Your child sees another child with an ice cream cone and wants one too. But teaching your child about peer pressure is a lot more than just saying no or saying the food is not healthy or it’s dinnertime. It is about building confidence that we gain through positive experiences.
If a pitcher throws a curve for a strike 90% of the time he will have confidence to throw that pitch in a tough situation. The confidence was built through hours of practice. Anything one wants to be good at requires practice. So, maybe it isn’t so terrible you couldn’t get your child to practice the piano and the confidence to play was not developed into becoming a pianist. However what is critical is that while your child is growing up, he/she is learning to make important decisions his/her entire life.
How do children get good at making decisions if they don’t have the practice and build the confidence in their decision making powers? I say, let them make choices. Do you want a pretzel or a cookie? But here is the hard part for moms and dads. If they choose the pretzel, they don’t get the cookie too and they begin to learn that decisions can have consequences. It is great if they like the pretzel and made the right choice. There are many teaching moments and opportunities to make decisions and maybe to choose the cookie next time.
Recently my own 14-year-old daughter went through her own peer pressure moment. After five years at the same dance school, she wanted to change schools. She had specific reasons. Her very close friends at dance school put pressure on her not to change. After some back and forth, she did not give in to pressure.
I was very proud that the reasons for her decision were made with sound principles and good judgment. I was most proud that she had the courage to stand by her principles because she knew what was right for her. What good is sound judgment and principles without the courage to stand up for what you believe? Good judgment comes from practice and experience. Principles and courage are taught by parents. It’s never too early to start.