Teach your child to say no, a powerful word that even adults sometimes have trouble saying. Explain that you understand that it’s difficult to go against the norm—especially if it goes against what their friends are doing—and takes emotional and mental strength to say they don’t agree.
Explain that just because they disagree with something, doesn’t mean they’re being disrespectful. As important as it is to feel strong and confident about disagreeing or saying no, it’s also important to do it in a way that’s respectful to others. Role play situations in which your child can disagree in a friendly manner. For example, they can say, “I know you think the sky is green, and I respect your opinion. But I believe the sky is blue, and I hope you can respect my opinion, too.”
Point out the benefits of standing apart from the crowd. Remind your child that people who are creative and unconventional may think differently from everyone else, and just going along to get along isn’t for them. While it’s important to learn how to work with others and cooperate, being an individual who knows how to be different is an important skill.
Remind your child that social situations and relationships change all the time. Something can seem to be one way and then quickly change into something else. Kids who understand this and who learn to see things with an eye toward the future are at an advantage because they know how to assimilate to different situations.
If your child is a witness to peer pressure, teach them the importance of seeing things from the perspective of the person putting the pressure on other kids. Insecurity might be the motivation behind some kids using peer pressure to try to convince others to act or think just like them.
Teach your child to be self-confident. Remind them to believe in themselves and have the courage to follow their personal beliefs, their likes and dislikes—even if it means going against what their friends and peers are doing.
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