How to Help Your Child Deal with Peer Pressure as a Christian
- Emmanuel Abimbola Contributing Writer
- 2022 3 Mar
Peer pressure is the influence of peers on people, either directly or indirectly. It occurs when members of society, friends, and age groups influence someone's decisions, behaviors, beliefs, and many other aspects of life.
Kids are not like adults. They are still young, naive, and inexperienced, making them more susceptible to negative peer pressure. They deal with countless negative influences from friends in school, other teens in the community, and sadly, sometimes, even from unhealthy members in the home.
Many of these children do not have the adequate or appropriate adult guidance and moral or ethical knowledge to deal with all the influences society throws at them every day. Hence, they end up making mistakes upon mistakes, and they barely understand the proper approach to dealing with these mistakes. 1 Corinthians 15:23
The internet has only made this worse. Today, children's scope of influence has broadened beyond the confines of their home, school, and immediate environment. Children can now be influenced negatively by strangers from another part of the world right under the noses of their parents without the adults ever knowing. The worst part is that parents can be ignorant of the extent of bad influence on their kids until something unimaginable happens. Many children today have become lost souls and socially damaged because their parents were unaware of the negative influences building in their child's life behind the scenes.
There are many abnormal social behaviors and immoral acts trending on the internet today that are easily accessible to kids around the world. Social media has played a role in promoting this ungodliness, and many children from ignorant parents have fallen victim to these global negative influences. Many decent values are now lost, and young people live an inappropriate lifestyle to gain acceptance from their peers. Children are being bullied and discredited by their peers for living a normal and godly lifestyle, so they join the bandwagon of doom trending in the world.
What leads to peer pressure?
Your child can easily be influenced negatively by their strong desire to fit in and be recognized by their peers.
Many children give in to peer pressure because they want validation from society. They want to be the coolest kid in town and impress a colleague or crush. The mindset most teenagers adopt when doing silly stuff is that "Everyone is doing it!". They have to do this to not be tagged the loser among their peers.
They are also drawn to social media because it is an uncensored platform that promotes and rewards all kinds of morally unacceptable behaviors. Some signs of negative peer influence, and dangerous social media influence, on a teen include:
Participating in unruly behaviors, like when your child suddenly starts breaking the rules and engaging in dangerous activities.
Exhibiting a sudden change in clothing. Or following indecent fashion trends to match those of their friends. This negative trend will include hairstyles, body arts, clothing, and jewelry.
Keeping late nights, ditching school for unknown reasons, and secretly sneaking out of the house.
Exhibiting a disassociation from parents and siblings. This makes them mysterious to their family members.
Halting communication, not sharing thoughts and feelings with their parents. They start keeping secrets from their siblings too.
Unfortunately, the internet through social media is fast replacing parents today. Children now resort to many strange, dark platforms on the internet to seek guidance and moral validation rather than communicating with their actual parents. This is why parents need to step up and rekindle communication with their teens (and even children) ASAP.
If you realize that your child might be a victim of negative peer pressure, here are some steps to help:
1. Pay attention to their choice of friends
Your children will make friends at every stage of life, and as parents, you can't miss out on this process. You must include yourself in their friend selecting process directly or even indirectly.
1 Corinthians 5:11 admonishes us not to associate with persons of ungodly character. We must observe the kind of friends our children make and be close and friendly to them. This way, you can be close enough to tell if they are a positive influence for your child or not.
However, do this wisely and not in a creepy or dogmatic manner. Ask open-ended questions to show you truly care about your child's friend. Get to know their friend's background, moral values, and way of thinking. If you notice they aren't a good fit for your child morally, socially, and spiritually, you must talk to your child and make them see logical reasons why they are not the kind of friends to hang out with. Help them see why they must end the friendship respectfully, yet immediately.
2. Lead by example
As a parent, you should make yourself the template your children can build on. If you keep bad company, your children will most certainly emulate you. Learn to lead by example. The examples you set are what your child will learn from subconsciously.
If your child knows that you are not influenced by neighbors, friends, or anyone to do something you naturally wouldn't do, they too will learn to behave with discernment, like you.
Also, as a parent of a Christian home, you can't accept friends who are against the teachings and principles of Christ. This way, your child will easily be aware and not be misled or lured into accepting the company of those who actively participate in sinful activities.
3. Stay informed of the latest trends
Your goal is to beat your children at their own game. So you must strive to keep up with information about the latest trends going on in the world. If you don't know or understand these trends, you can't detect them or prepare your child against them.
Your knowledge of these negative trends will help you effectively lecture your child about the dangers and negative implications these devices and icons might have on their lives. This will also make your child open to discussing with you and seek your wisdom and guidance because they realize you are not just an old, obsolete adult.
4. Help your child develop good self-esteem
The first and most important defense your child needs against peer pressure is good self-esteem. If your child feels inferior and lacks self-esteem, such a child will constantly strive to measure up to societal standards. And they will be willing to do anything to gain societal validation and recognition among their peers. Lack of good self-esteem will only make your child easily succumb to negative peer influences. You must teach them to be confident in their skin and believe in themselves.
Always give them the validation and praise they need. Tell your children how naturally beautiful they are, how brilliant, and how valuable they are to you.
Giving positive remarks and commendations to your child for their efforts is very rewarding. Even when they fail, stay positive and make them believe they can make it to the next attempt. This way, they won't look down on themselves and won't let anyone else look down on them either.
Making your child realize they are not to live their lives to impress anyone but themselves and God helps them stay confident. It also makes them not feel easily pressured by their peers to do anything they don't want to do.
5. Be there for them
As parents, you must be there for your children through the good, the bad, and ugly moments of their lives. Be ready to listen to everything they have to say. Pay attention to their moods, feelings, and physical changes.
Don't let your child feel like your work, business, career, and hobby is more important than them. Communicate with them no matter how busy your schedules are because that one minute of your time might be all it takes to save their lives.
You must also learn to follow up on conversations with your kids. If your child is going through a phase, you must show deep interest and follow up with the child till they succeed.
Be their cheerleader, trusted friend, and that person they can confide in no matter how badly they messed up. If your child can open up to you with just about anything, they won't need to seek advice from a stranger.
As parents, we work hard to raise our children in the ways of the Lord. We teach them the Word of God and instill the disciplines of God in their lives( Proverbs 2:6). But out there, the devil is trying to win them over to his side. He uses many mediums such as friends, the internet, and social media.
We must be on guard, pay attention to any strange changes in our children, and be mindful of the company they keep.
We must also be involved in their development progress, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This way we can offer the necessary support they need and help them overcome negative peer pressure and live their lives for Christ alone.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Motortion
Emmanuel Abimbola is a creative freelance writer, blogger, and web designer. He is a devout Christian with an uncompromising faith who hails from Ondo State in Nigeria, West Africa. As a lover of kids, Emmanuel runs a small elementary school in Arigidi, Nigeria.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
You can read Rhonda's full article here!