Supporting your child

There are many ways to support your child, we have covered some of the most universal challenges below and offer some advice and resources that may help.

Peer pressure

Peer pressure is a timeless constant that many young people find themselves needing to navigate. But how can you help your child manage it all successfully?

Firstly, it is important to acknowledge that it is normal that your child will want to fit in and be liked by their peers. It is also normal that they will listen to and be influenced by them. This can be a good thing — for instance, your child may admire a friend who is good at sport and will be inspired to train harder themselves, or they could be influenced to study more if a peer is academically focused. 

Positive peer pressure can mean young people are introduced to new music, fashion or experiences and to push themselves further and discover who they really are.

Peer pressure becomes a problem when your child is influenced to do things that are not good for them or others around them. Examples could include skipping schools, shoplifting or even bullying others. 

What can you do to help?

  • Open communication

Talk to your child about what’s going on and actively listen to what they say. Try to remain calm and open: if you get angry or impatient, it can send a signal to them that you won’t understand. Try to facilitate the conversation when you are both doing other things, such driving or loading the dishwasher. This helps make the conversation feel less intense.

Give rational and honest answers and encourage them to be honest too. Peer pressure can be strong but don’t underestimate how much influence you have too.

  • Parent admiration

The desire for parental admiration is powerful and all children want to impress their parents and receive their love and praise. Always remember to praise them and tell them how proud you are of them, even if some of their behaviour is not what you would want at that moment.

  • Talk to the school

If you feel there are some negative friendships and consequent behavioural changes, arrange to speak to their class teacher or form tutor (depending on the age of the child) to gain their perspective. When educators and parents work together, coordinating strategies can be developed between home and school, which will hopefully help guide your child to make the right decisions.

  • Build their resilience

Standing up to peers takes confidence and a strong sense of self, and these skills can be developed by encouraging your child to get to know themselves and what matters to them. This mostly starts with a strong positive self-esteem. Young people will only learn to value themselves if they are valued by the people around them. Making them feel good about themselves will give them the confidence to say no when they need to.

The Skills Builder’s Homezone, a partner organisation of Parentkind helps parents to build their child’s essential skills at home. They identify eight essential skills, including listening, speaking, problem solving, creativity, staying positive, aiming high, leadership and teamwork. The staying positive’ skill is useful to take a look at in respect of mental health concerns.

Problem solving

A 2010 study published in Behaviour Research and Therapy found that teaching a child problem-solving skills can improve mental health. 

Teaching children to peacefully find solutions to their own problems is one of the most important lessons you can teach. Not only does it empower them, and make them mentally strong but developing conflict resolution skills is critical for life success. Additionally it fosters a good life attitude, an understanding that we are all responsible for our own happiness and that avoiding problems is not a good tactic.

Young Minds charity offers lots of information and advice for young people and parents on developing strategies and skills to help with problem-solving and looking after mental health.