From the Scholastic Bookshelf: How to Talk to Kids About Peer Pressure

Creating a plan for tackling peer pressure with your child helps them know how to respond to it.

Jan 26, 2022



From the Scholastic Bookshelf: How to Talk to Kids About Peer Pressure

Jan 26, 2022

Feedback from friends is a crucial part of our decision-making process, but when that feedback becomes an aggressive attempt to influence our behavior in some way, it’s peer pressure. With “influencers” taking center stage on social media, it’s safe to say your child will experience peer pressure at some point.

Explaining what peer pressure is — it can be positive or negative — and equipping your child with the tools to navigate it sets them up for independence. A few pointers:

  • Talk with your child about complex topics early in life, so that when they encounter a difficult situation they’ll know they can approach you with it.

  • Discuss “what-if” scenarios of peer pressure and how your child would handle them.

  • Agree on a “safe word” your child can use around peers, in the event they need your help exiting a situation.

Whether your child is navigating complex friendships or struggling to set boundaries with the friends they’ve chosen, there are ways to remind them of your support.

For its 100th anniversary, Scholastic spoke with experts to identify a set of tips, articles, and books that make starting a conversation with your child about peer pressure easier. These resources are part of a broader initiative, called the Scholastic Bookshelf, created for Instagram to raise awareness around contemporary issues affecting children today.

For more quick tips and book recommendations, sign up for our Scholastic Parents newsletter!

Articles About Peer Pressure

Did you know just 5 percent of a crowd can influence how the other 95 percent behaves? That’s the statistic that opens “Are You Following the Herd?” by Holly Corbett for Scholastic Choices magazine. Tackling the topic of “herd mentality,” this article addresses why we view joining the group as a safer alternative than being an outlier. 

Kids can ask themselves if they would still choose a behavior in question even if no one else did. Making a plan for saying no and prioritizing their goals over the group can help them better deal with the weight of peer pressure.  

In “How Bad Could It Be?,” a fictional piece in Scholastic Storyworks magazine, readers learn the importance of weighing rewards versus risks before doing something you may regret. 

Readers meet Ben, who will do anything to please his friend, Kevin — including bullying his classmate Truman. Though Ben initially dodges a few dares from Kevin to humiliate Truman, he ultimately agrees to a prank — with disastrous consequences. It takes a wounded Truman for Ben to feel guilt, remorse, and immediate regret for his actions. Children can learn a valuable lesson about doing the right thing. 

Books About Peer Pressure

The relatable characters we find in books can be the best comfort and give kids examples of how to lead their best lives. The following titles share a common theme: Female protagonists choosing between conformity and their individual identities.

In A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon, a child becomes so obsessed with everyone else’s opinion that she stops being herself and gets a case of stripes — leaving her covered in stripes, polka dots, or other patterns. The only way she’ll shake it is if she can embrace who she is.

And in another read, popular lacrosse player Sarah Anne has a secret: She’s still in love with the fantasy book series everyone obsessed over in elementary school. So much so that in Secrets of a Fangirl, readers find Sarah Anne entering a contest to see the series’ movie adaptation at its L.A. premiere. But keeping her jock and nerd identities separate is tricky. To keep it together, Sarah Anne might have to come clean about her lies to both friend groups.

Meanwhile, in True to Your Selfie, 12-year-old Ella has ditched the fantasy novels, but only because new best friend Morgan demanded it. Ella isn’t exactly sure why cool and confident Morgan has chosen her to be her sidekick, but Ella is ready to take 7th grade by storm. However, being Morgan’s best friend requires lots of perfection, and it leaves Ella feeling guilty for snubbing former best friend Sophie. When Ella discovers a new talent that Morgan disapproves of, she must choose the path that serves who she really is.

Be sure to visit the Scholastic Bookshelf for more resources on peer pressure and other must-discuss topics, like bullying and self-esteem.

Shop books below for positive messages about handling peer pressure. You can shop all books and activities at The Scholastic Store.

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