Peer pressure is a powerful influence in kids’ lives. It can have a major impact on their thoughts and the choices they make. And that desire to fit in and feel accepted can leave many kids — especially those with ADHD — overwhelmed, stressed, and worried about being bullied.
Peer pressure can be both positive and negative. Positive influences can steer kids away from doing things like trying drugs and bullying their peers. But negative pressure can do the opposite. It can encourage these same behaviors as the “cool” thing to do.
Learning the difference between positive and negative peer pressure can be tough for kids with ADHD. Knowing how to manage the two can be even more challenging. Here are five tips to help your child with ADHD tackle peer pressure.
1. Have a talk.
You might feel anxious or uncomfortable talking to your child about the influences of peer pressure. Chances are your child has similar feelings. But keeping calm and lending a listening ear can make all the difference. Let kids know they’re not alone and that coming to an adult to talk about what’s happening is always an option.
2. Show kids how to recognize the signs of peer pressure.
A key step to managing peer pressure is being able to call it out whenever it shows up. Help your child get a clear idea of what peer pressure can look and feel like. Explain how feeling anxious or fearing rejection after telling a friend “no” is a sign of peer pressure.
3. Be proactive.
Talking about situations before they happen can help kids think clearly about what to do in real time. Set aside time to talk about the peer pressures that are likely to happen as your child gets older. Make sure to share how you expect your child to respond when situations come up.
4. Get to know your child’s friends.
Meeting your child’s friends, and their families, is key to building trust and creating safe boundaries. Remind your child that healthy and positive friendships are ones where you’re accepted for being yourself.
5. Practice saying “no.”
Kids with ADHD have a harder time resisting temptation than other kids. They’re more likely to take risks. And they often act or speak without thinking. Help make it easier for your child to say no by providing the exact words to say. Explain why it’s important to resist giving in to harmful influences.
Peer pressure can be hard to resist. Learn how to help grade-schoolers and high-schoolers gain self-control. Practice role-playing social skills with your child.
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About the author
About the author
Andrew Kahn, PsyD is a licensed psychologist who has served as an evaluator and consultant in public schools for nearly 20 years. Kahn, who describes himself as neurodivergent, is a subject matter expert at Understood.