How to teach children the difference between good and bad peer pressure.
Children naturally model their behavior after others. We can't change this instinctual behavior but we can help children distinguish when they should or should not copy others. Most children copy another student as the result of either good peer pressure or bad peer pressure. When children are given a few simple tools they can usually figure out real fast if they are being a copy-cat, or a copy-rat.
1. Is your action kind?
2. Does it make others happy?
3. Would you want to be treated this way?
4. Is it safe?
Read the following scenarios and let your children choose which answer is good peer pressure and which one is bad peer pressure, then explain their answer. Be careful to redirect your child’s answer if it is obviously wrong, without telling them they are wrong. Let your child think about their answer. Often when children describe their thought process it reveals they are usually thinking the right answer but just relaying it incorrectly.
Story #1: While Susie and Carolyn were riding their bikes on the sidewalk, Susie watched Carolyn get off her bike and carefully walk it around some younger children who were walking in front of them. Susie followed Carolyn’s example and quickly got off her bike to walk it around the children as well. Is this an example of good peer pressure or bad peer pressure?
Story #2: Tyler was eating lunch with another boy named Scott. They had to show the lunch attendant they had eaten all their vegetables before they were excused to recess. While they were eating Tyler watched Scott throw his vegetables on the floor under the table so it looked like he had eaten them. Tyler copied him and carefully dropped his vegetables under the table as well. Was this good copying or bad copying?
You can make up examples of your own. Discuss different scenarios while you are hanging out or waiting in the car. These types of discussions are fun and feel like a special game for your children. Anything can be turned into a "Choice" game and the best part is, while your children think you are playing, you are actually giving them valuable decision-making tools that will help them throughout their entire life.
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