How to Deal With Peer Pressure for Kids: 5 Tips for Parents

By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi
Originally published at

Throughout June 2011, we’ll be working on the concept of “integrity” as part of our Powerful Words character development curriculum.

All our discussions and activities will aim to help our students understand what it means to be true to oneself, one’s values and principles, one’s word, and one’s standards and beliefs.

This month’s “Dear Dr. Robyn” column is all about teaching our children about integrity.

Dr. Robyn Silverman is the child development expert who created Powerful Words, our character development curriculum here at Urban Martial Arts.

Dear Dr. Robyn,
I want to make sure my daughter doesn’t lose herself as she gets older. As a teacher and parent, I see many kids succumb to peer pressure and go along with what their friends say and do. How can I ensure that my child stays true to herself when her friends are doing something that she doesn’t want to do?
—Dane T, St. Louis, MO

Dear Dane,
You sound like a parent who clearly wants to raise a leader with integrity; someone who is true to herself, her values, and her word.

It can be challenging to remain authentic in a world that often seems to celebrate the “unreal” as witnessed in commonplace photoshopping, gratuitous plastic surgery, and “Reality” TV. But that certainly doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

To build integrity in your children, teach them how to:

Be assertive: Teach them to speak up for what they believe and need. Being assertive allows them to honor their choices and their values.

Listen to their gut: If they believe that something feels right, teach them to move forward. If they believe that something feels wrong, teach them to pause, take a step back, and reevaluate their next steps.

Put themselves in other people’s shoes: Integrity takes empathy for others. It signals the voice inside one’s head that it’s vital to keep one’s word and follow through with one’s commitments. In other words, help them to see that other people are counting on them!

Live life according to their inner truth and values: As author, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, once wrote; “If you live your life trying to please others, half the people will like you and half won’t. And if you live your life according to your own truth, half the people will like you and half won’t.” The underlying question to ask is—which half do you want as friends—those who like you for who you actually are or the person you are pretending to be?

Identify and express emotion: Our emotions are part of who we are. Some choose to squelch them, some lie about them, and still others feel confused by them. When people are able to identify and express their emotions, they have what is called “emotional intelligence.” By understanding and honoring their emotions, they stay true to themselves.

Of course, the best thing you can do to help your children stay true to themselves and their word, is to be a role model of integrity yourself.

Here’s to your success!

~by Dr. Robyn Silverman