After school -  Helping children to handle peer pressure

As adults, many of us will have experienced peer pressure when we were younger. While the world we grew up in may be very different to the one our children are growing up in now, peer pressure has always been there and is still here today.


Some of those reasons still stand – children want to fit in or feel popular or they may want to look cool. Throw in social media, which we didn’t have as children, and you can see how peer pressure doesn’t stop at the school gates.


One way children can feel peer pressure is the selfie culture of trying to look “perfect”, which can make some young people feel that they always have to do more and be better. This can really be felt even more acutely after school and children can want to be seen wearing the “right” clothes and brands.


Benefits to school uniform

There are many benefits to wearing a school uniform – it sets a boundary between school and home life, all kids are wearing the same thing so it removes differences between them, and it also saves arguments between parents and children about what’s appropriate to wear for school (and time in the morning deciding what to wear).


However, after school children can feel the pressure of what’s the “in” thing to wear, and it can also conflict with whether you think it’s appropriate or how much is being spent on clothes.


Anxiety and pressure

It doesn’t take a great internet search to find the anxiety that some children feel the pressure to look a certain way. Much of this anxiety can come from the fear of not wearing the latest designer brands and labels.


Childline has some great advice for kids on dealing with peer pressure:

  • it's okay to say no
  • you can make your own choices
  • there are ways to say no to something, but still be accepted and have friends
  • there are ways to feel more confident about saying how you feel.


They also offer advice on self-esteem, friendships and assertiveness.


You can also read our blog on bullying, which has lots of advice on where to go and the signs to spot if you have concerns that your children are being bullied because of peer pressure.


Practical solutions

The reality is that most people can’t afford to buy expensive labels. You only need to go to a shopping centre to see how popular shops like Primark are! And many people are proud when they get a bargain at the shops.


Remember, other parents will also be getting pressure from kids to buy them brands and labels, so you could reach out to some of the parents of your children's friends to see if they’re getting the same pressure and reassure each other you’re on the same page when it comes to rules about what your children are allowed to wear.


If you buy your children unbranded items, nobody will know where they came from or how much they cost, and if you’re really worried, just cut the labels out.


If you really want to get branded label clothing, there are lots of shopping outlets where you can get them at discounted prices, or allow your child to have one branded item, say a jumper or trainers, and the rest plain.


Reassure your children that trends come and go and what they think is cool to wear now, in a few years’ time won’t be. But when you’re older you can look back and laugh about it without embarrassment. Encourage them to be proud of their individuality and have confidence to wear what they like – not just what other children think they should wear.