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Peer Pressure in Children


I always thought that peer pressure was something Netra would have to face when she entered her troublesome ‘pre-teens’. I dreaded how it would influence her but I was pretty sure that I could handle it – after all, though my own adolescence is shrouded in the mists of time, I think I can, with an effort, recollect a thing or two about resisting peer pressure.

Imagine my fright at discovering that this phenomenon does not wait for adolescence. My daily battle has begun, and it started in the most insidious way possible.

We had planned to buy Netra a bicycle for her birthday so she could pick up theCycle as my kid's birthday gift skill and we could together explore the extensive parks in Singapore. But my daughter put her  chubby foot down and said thank you very much, but she would much rather have a scooter – those two-or three-wheeled slender contraptions with a perpendicular bar that are such a menace to the general public – since all her friends in the condo had one. And it had to be purple or pink, and it had to be of a certain brand (needless to say, the most expensive one).

 I did not realise it, but this was the beginning of pressure, exerted oh-so-subtly by her peers on my daughter, and transferred from her onto me. So, I will painstakingly plait her hair in the rushed mornings and she will come home with her hair undone and hanging loose because ‘that’s what all the girls do’, I will neatly tuck her shirt into her shorts and she will come home with her shirt rakishly, and shabbily, hanging out, because she does not want to look ‘funny and different’, and eventually, I will buy her the same overpriced and thoroughly un-usable stationery that all the other children possess, lest she be the only one without it!

I am ashamed to admit it – I caved in! I know that the girls never actually ride their scooters; rather they are appendages to cling on to as they stand around chatting in groups, but how could I watch my daughter huffing and puffing on foot behind them, trying to catch up, as they sailed around the play park on the infernal things, for all of two minutes?

Pressure in Children

So here I am, mother of a five-year old, faced with the classic dilemma that I am sure all mothers face – do I battle the influence of peers on my child and insist that she maintain her individuality, or do I give in and allow her to conform?

Ideally, I would like her to take her own decisions, uninfluenced by others, and be happy with them,  but my heart aches at the thought of her feeling  deprived of something that her friends have, or even worse, that she could be ‘left out’ or considered a freak because she does not fit in and conform. After all, I cannot take her to all the grand birthday parties and then not throw an equally grand one for her in return. I cannot simply refuse to take her for the parties either. In either scenario, I would be setting her up for rejection and isolation.

And much as I hate to admit it, there are enough occasions when I, as a parent, also cave into peer pressure – whether it is enrolling her for that Mandarin class that all the other kids are going to (which she so doesn’t need at this stage, especially when she has enough, more relevant languages to learn in any case) or buying her that scooter she doesn’t need.

Well, what would you do?

Also Read : How to Build your Child’s Confidence – 3 Proven Practical Tips!

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Kritika Srinivasan is an Editor at ParentEdge. She has her hands full with an active young child and her writing. She is keenly interested in ways to engage and stimulate children to keep their lively and intelligent minds busy.


2 thoughts on “Peer Pressure in Children

  1. ramyas

    I can relate to every word you’ve written, Kritika. There is no golden rule – sometimes you cave in (like when I organized a Ben 10 bday party for my son) and sometimes you don’t (he still carries his school bag and pencil box from last year & didn’t get his Rs. 5000 firefox bicycle)

  2. gayatri

    Another example of the parental dilemma – where do you draw the line? You want your child to fit in and yet let her individuality shine through…. Just wanted to warn you, Kritika, that you are going to find this happening more and more. And when you bring up your child in a ‘foreign’ cultural experience, you add a new dimension….. :-)
    I remember the same hair-let-loose problem I had with my daughter when she was Netra’s age. Like most Indians, my daughter too had the thick hair that does not lend itself nicely to being let loose – it was calling out to be tied up, but there it was, all over the place, and I couldn’t see see my daughter’s face for all that hair! And it got in the way of all her activities, hanging down like a curtain, hindering her…… I reasoned with her, I cajoled, and I just gritted my teeth and tried to ignore it. Luckily, she soon got into sports, and the kids there wore ponytails with headbands, which she adopted too – much to my relief!

    I think, for us a parents too, it is a learning experience – learning when to give in and when to resist the pleas of our children for something they clearly do not need. If we instil the right values in our children, then we can hope that some day when they are mature enough, they will also learn when to say no and follow their own path to find their own place in the sun.

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