Between family, friends, school and extracurricular activities your kid doesn’t have much time to be just a kid. A kindergarten child needs space to evolve without feeling pressures similar to adult life. As parents we are all dealing with this major disease called “peer pressure” and its influence on the child’s psychology.
What is peer pressure?
Studies have shown that the influence of peers has a significant role to play in the academic and non-academic achievements of your kid. All the influences of peers are not necessarily negative. Also, we cannot place every action of your child completely on the shoulders of a peer group.
Following in the footsteps of more intelligent children is usually presumed to be a good thing. But this coin has two sides:
It could make your kid smarter too. The child may develop a killer-instinct for setting his or her goals and working towards achieving them.
On the other hand, the peer pressure could prove too much for the kid. The child would then show signs of rebellion. This behavior is a defense mechanism so that he doesn’t have to match the achievements of the peer group and this can become a habit.
Negative peer pressure doesn’t necessarily mean vices, substance abuse or petty crime! There can be other negative influences of peers that will not only affect the child’s academic performance, but will also change the entire future of the child.
Your kid is very intelligent and capable of achieving good grades. But his peers consider only physical activities and games as achievements. This situation is very common and seems fine when you look at it superficially. But if you look at the long term prospects of your child and potential for higher achievements, it would be a tragedy to let the kid focus only on sports.
How do you deal with your child’s peer pressure?
The influence of peer groups starts when a child is in kindergarten and not as teenagers. So here’s a six-step antidote for the ailment called peer pressure:
- Engage in conversation – Let your child talk to you about anything and everything on earth. Listening is a very important aspect of child development. Be a good listener and wait for the child to ask for advice. If you feel that the kid’s thoughts are confused, offer two choices and tell the consequences of either choice. Let the child decide. Listening will help in 3 ways:
- You will know your child’s thought processes,
- If your kid is having problems with the peer group you can lend emotional support,
- You will know the level of influence they have on your child.
- Use peer pressure to your advantage – As you listen to the child’s stories about the peers, you will know which activity the kid enjoys the most. For example, if your child seems to admire peers involved in art, you can encourage these activities in your kid.
- Be proactive rather than instructive – It would be our natural tendency to instruct on how to draw or color something. But it is best to show once and then let your kid develop his creative skills. Don’t forget to admire the masterpieces!
- Be supportive – Get some art materials like child-safe water colors and let the kid indulge in freehand art. If your kid spills some water or ruins a few clothes, provide tissues for mopping and reserve old clothes art activities. Scolding the kid at this stage will discourage the child from artwork itself.
- Offer rewards for proper choices – Now this is a dicey thing! Offering material rewards is definitely bad because your child will always expect such rewards for every action. So let’s stick to simple things like cookies baked especially for the child or give the kid opportunity to plan the Sunday’s outing, or something along those lines.
- Make the child self-reliant – Slowly hone the child’s talent so that he or she learns to think independently and knows the difference between right and wrong. Children learn more from observation and examples rather than mere instructions.
At the end of the day it boils down to one thing, LISTENING! The more you listen to your kindergarten child talk, the better is your influence on his/her thoughts. Don’t give up your parental right to influence the mind of your child. Most times, just being there for the child at the right time is all that is needed to make the kid self-reliant and self-confident enough to deal with peer pressure.