As parents, educators and coaches, one of the greatest fears you have for your kids is the peer pressure they’ll experience, especially the type of pressure that could ruin their lives. It’s not a question of if, but “when” they’re going to subjected to it.
Not unique to kids
The truth is that we don’t outgrow peer pressure. It afflicts adults as well as kids. Hopefully, as adults, we find it easier to resist. But, as we’ve seen all too often, that isn’t the case.
Regardless of age, what enables us to resist peer pressure is confidence. For with confidence we see a commitment to values. The values may not be the same as yours, but they exist and are as clearly defined and adhered to as yours. Supremacists are every bit as confident in their perception of the world as I am in mine…although our perceptions are dramatically different.
Yet both they and I live according to our beliefs. They’re not likely to adopt my beliefs that people of other ethnicities are:
- My equal, if not better than me in some regard.
- Experiencing the same emotions I feel.
- Desirous, and in pursuit, of a better life for themselves and their kids.
- Not a threat to me, my job or my lifestyle.
- Teachers who, by virtue of their different backgrounds, offer me insights that I could not otherwise gain.
- Loving, caring and sharing.
And I am certainly not going to be persuaded to the Supremacists way of thinking. In other words, neither of us is going to cave to peer pressure even when we are in the minority.
Confidence gives us the strength to resist peer pressure when it goes against our beliefs. As parents, educators and coaches that means that it’s important to realize what values our words and actions are instilling in our kids.
As I’ve suggested many times in this blog, kids emulate the behaviors of the adults in their lives. That’s not speculation on my part, you’ve witnessed this yourselves. Kids who grow up in:
- Permissive households tend to be irresponsible.
- Supremacist or Zionist households adopt the beliefs of their parents.
- Households in which independent thinking and personal responsibility are important tend to be independent, responsible citizens.
- Loving, caring, sharing households tend to be loving, caring, sharing.
The key words are “tend to be.” There are always exceptions to the rule.
We’ve also seen that the education system can counter some of the aspects of the home environment. Kids in some of the poorest areas of the country are going to college on academic scholarships at an unprecedented rate because the school administrators and teachers taught the kids how to be confident and offered them a more joyful, fulfilling set of values.
Help your kids develop a clear set of values and the confidence they need to live those values. Remember to live them yourself. No one is perfect, we all make mistakes and stray from our values. But the confident among us acknowledge our mistakes, apologize for them and do what’s necessary to fix the damage done.
When your kids see you behaving this way, they’re likely to do so as well.
It’s also important to be active in your school system…to help direct the kinds of values and confidence education you want your kids to have.
Finally, push your elected leaders to develop programs that foster choices for parents…that allow you to choose to send your kids to schools that embrace the values and confidence you espouse.
For our kids
Help them develop a clear set of values and the confidence to act according to their beliefs…even when they’re in the minority. They’re more likely to avoid the kinds of peer pressure that could potentially ruin their lives.