Peer pressure in children

Converse in shopAs your pre-teen child gets closer to teenage-hood, peer pressure - the pressure to do what other kids are doing, and to conform to certain norms of behaviour, dress, attitude - will become more and more important.

For your child, it's all about breaking away from the family and identifying with their peer group, their friends, and learning to be different from the people who brought them into the world and raised them (ie you).

Responding to peer pressure and being like their friends is becoming important to children throughout their pre-teen years - and it will be even more important to them when they're teenagers. You won't like all of the behaviour but that's the whole point.

This is about your child stating their claim to be different, drawing a line in the sand between who you are and who they are - not just for now, but for the future. And it's a lot more about the process of breaking away than it is about the embraced emblems of change. So computer games and piercings won't last - but the realisation that they can be different from you will.

Being dazzled by your peer group is an important stage; but it's also (and this is crucial) a phase. Like all those other 'OMG I'll never get through this' stages of raising a child, it will eventually come end and become the stuff of family legend.

Peer pressure does bring with it decisions over which battles you're going to fight, and which issues you're going to turn a blind eye to. And while you don't want to be a complete pushover, remember that anything you disapprove of will instantly become so, so much more attractive and appealing in your pre-teen's eyes.

Choosing your battles

However much you understand the psychology, there are some things you simply can't allow. You have to decide or work out what those things are: it might be piercings, it might be an iPhone, it might be a crop top. So you have to draw a line as well, and no matter how much your child wants to be like their friends, the answer (on this issue) is, and must remain, a firm no.

"Everyone else has got one" will become a familiar mantra, but remember, this is hardly ever true. So yes, one friend might have an iPhone - but that's not everyone.

Remember that saying 'no' doesn't make you a bad parent. On the other hand, you need to listen to your child's point of view, as well as understanding their motivations.

There is an upside to peer pressure, especially where clothes are concerned. On the Mumsnet Talk boards, Mumsnetters report that children are far more likely to enjoy and wear clothes they've chosen themselves. So, at least you should get your money's worth out of those skinny jeans or branded trainers.

What Mumsnetters say about peer pressure

Jump! magazine logoJump! is an online magazine for pre-teen girls. Its motto is Fluff free and Bieberless, and it covers tons of interesting topics. If your pre-teen wants to read about something more interesting than lipgloss and slebs, or is a keen writer who wants to get their articles published, they'll Jump! for joy.
  • Your attitudes have to change - and quickly - as they near adolescence. I let my kids do things that I would have said "never" to when they were eight, nine and 10. Maryz
  • I decided to let my eight-year-old daughter come clothes shopping with me to let her have more input on what she wore.  She chose some lovely things - boyfriend-style jeans with colourful belts, bright T-shirts, and denim shorts with leggings. From now on I'll take her with me and let her have her say! Meggles76
  • I hate peer pressure but I don't want my child to stand out - think that lad in About a Boy. The important think is to discuss things with your child, so they know their views are being listened to. needmorecoffee 


Last updated: 2 days ago