In the backyard is a chili pepper plant budding with fruits – chili pepper, naturally.
“Come on, Tan, let’s eat some chili!” urged NJ.
TanTan knew that chili’s are hot and spicy. He eats spicy pancit canton, and even likes the spicy sauce of siomai. But, can he bear the spiciness of the chili pepper fruit itself? His heart was racing while his friend continued to urge him.
In the end, TanTan decided to give it a go. He ate one chili, making his eyes water and his lips swell slightly. It was definitely hot and spicy.
I witnessed the whole scenario at home, and I couldn’t believe that TanTan really ate a chili. His father immediately went to the rescue and gave him some sugar to put on his lips, to lessen the spiciness and hotness. I told him to drink lots of water.
Like most 8-year old kids, he is a picky eater. It’s difficult to convince him to eat vegetables, or any other food that seems new to him. But he ate a chili, at the urging of a friend. Peer pressure is on.
As parents, how do we teach our kids to handle peer pressure? Is it even possible to influence our kids in this area?
I have four things in mind that can help our kids handle peer pressure. It is important to start doing these things during our children’s formative years so that by the time they reach the crucial teenage years, they will have a strong foundation.
- Encourage kids to have a personal and intimate relationship with God. Make them understand that your relationship with God is different from their relationship with God. Just because you, their parent, are saved, does not mean that they are also saved. It is a one on one relationship.
Once they understand this, they will realize that they are solely responsible for their actions. They will pay for the wrong things they’ll do; they will be rewarded for their good deeds. They will reap the consequences of their actions – not their parents, or their friends.
2. Choose their friends. I see eyebrows raised, but why not? You are the parent, they are under your authority. You have the right and the responsibility to make sure that they are surrounded by people who are good to and for them.
3. Let them know that there will be peer pressure. When TanTan ate that chili, I told him that later on it will be cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs. There will always be friends who will encourage him to try these things.
“If they ask you to try these things, will you say yes?” I asked him, and he said no. But I shouldn’t rest there. I sense that this will be an ongoing battle for the rest of my life as his mother. Making him aware of the possibilities will hopefully prepare him to handle peer pressure.
4. Let them know that you are there for them. Always. No matter what. They will make the wrong choices, give in to peer pressure, feel like the world is against them because they went against the peer pressure, or feel lonely because they are not doing what other kids their age are doing. Whatever they will go through, make sure that they understand that you are there for them – not to nag at them, but to comfort them. You are their home, their refuge against the world that will inevitably become a battleground.