Peer Pressure and Grade-schoolers
Here’s a look at how peer pressure affects grade schoolers, and how you foster confidence in your child whether he’s a leader or a follower.
By: Gregory Germain, MD
Peer pressure is a child’s version of “keeping up with the Joneses”—and it can be hard to take. Yes, peers can be a wonderful, nurturing influence on your child: If he is getting good feedback from his classmates, like getting picked first for every team in gym, then he will not only feel accepted but he will also see himself as an athlete. If he tells a joke and his friends laugh, great: He’ll feel proud of this skill.
But if your daughter reads slowly, for instance, and gets teased by the other kids in the class, she may feel self-conscious about her abilities at school. Indeed, when peers are bad they can be really bad.
Is Your Child a Leader or a Follower?
By elementary school your child’s leadership abilities should start to become apparent. He will be deciding whether he wants to lead or follow the pack. Sometimes it’s not so cut and dried, and your child may change his comfort in this respect in different situations.
If your child is a leader it means he is confident socially: He isn’t afraid to take risks in front of his peers, and he may be the first to volunteer to get involved in activities. Praise your child’s independence in this regard, but also encourage him to involve other children when he takes the lead.
If your child is a follower you may see him wanting to mimic some of the other kids in the class by wearing the same clothes or taking part in the same activities. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing unless it gets out of hand. If your child is following someone who is disruptive and acts up in class, you will need to have a talk with his teacher and encourage him to get involved with kids you know are a better influence. Teach your child to stand up for himself and not to let other people control him.
Don’t forget to teach your child about kindness, too!