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We all want our children to be a good influence on others. By learning how to encourage positive peer pressure, you can help your child identify when they can be a force for good in their social group. Your teenager can be a powerful influence on their friends, and you can help.

What is positive peer pressure?

Peer pressure isn’t just about teenagers encouraging each other to take risks or engage in unhealthy behaviour. There are also many positive ways peer pressure can be a good force in the life of your teenager and their friends.

Positive peer pressure is when someone’s peers influence them to do something positive or growth building. For example, peers who are committed to doing well in school or at sport can influence others to be more goal orientated. Similarly, peers who are kind, loyal or supportive influence others to be the same.

Advice from a peer is often more influential to a teenager than advice from an adult. Equip your child (or their friends) with the tools to be a good influence, because they can impact the choices friends make more than any adult can sometimes.

How to encourage your child to use positive peer pressure

Below are some ways that you can encourage your child to be a positive influence on others. 

  • Teach your child that their behaviour is always influencing others. Encourage them to understand that their friends are aware of what other people are doing, just like they themselves are. Acting with confidence and sound judgment means others will be more inclined to respect them and follow their lead.
  • Talk with them about the kinds of friends they want to have. Talk with your child about what their values are, and how they can demonstrate them. Encourage them to seek out friends with similar values.
  • Support their interest in positive role models. A role model can offer powerful peer pressure or influence. Encourage your child to identify traits they want to emulate about their role models, and support them to explore interest in good role models.

Why positive peer pressure works

Unlike adults, who will generally act similarly whether alone or in a group, teenagers are more susceptible to the influence of a crowd or their friends. While they are learning about their social place and their identity, they are subconsciously looking to their friends for information about how to act and interact with others.

The teenage brain is hypersensitive to the opinions of others and their place in the social group. Areas of the brain associated with reward are more active when they are with peers, giving them a lot of positive feedback when they are being observed or interacting with others. For the same reason, they also learn more quickly in the presence of their peers.

Knowing this, your child can use it to their advantage. The same way you model behaviour you want your child to adopt, ask your child to model the behaviour they want to see from their friends and peers.

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