Child Development & Parenting: Middle (8-11)
Resources
Basic Information
Middle Childhood IntroductionChild Feeding and NutritionChild SleepingChild Hygiene and AppearanceChild Health and Medical IssuesChild SafetyChild EducationChild Discipline and GuidanceDealing with Difficult Childhood IssuesMiddle Childhood ConclusionQuestions and AnswersBook Reviews
Related Topics

Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses
Internet Addiction and Media Issues
Parenting
Self Esteem
Child Development & Parenting: Infants (0-2)
Child Development & Parenting: Early (3-7)
Child Development Theory: Middle Childhood (8-11)
Childhood Special Education
Child & Adolescent Development: Puberty

Fitting In and Peer Pressure

Angela Oswalt Morelli , MSW, edited by Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

In middle-childhood, children participate in extended social networks of friends, often organized around a school or other institution that groups children together. The relationships within these naturally forming social networks are hierarchical in nature, meaning that they are not all equal. Some children are more popular and sought out in these groupings, while others struggle to be included at all. Children sense that an important part of their happiness is linked in with how they are perceived and treated by the other children in their network, and so they tend to worry a lot about how their social position within the network. This is another way of saying that many children are concerned about how others perceive them, and therefore are subject to intense peer pressure. They are often willing to do most anything - even self-destructive things - in order that they can become well-regarded and sought after by other children.

upset teen in school hallwayParents cannot and should not try to remove children from the pressure of needing to fit in. This process of fitting in is the crucible in which children's social skills are learned and practiced. Children who are kept away from this struggle will not learn vital social skills they will need in order to negotiate the adult social world (where these skills become necessary to maintain employment or advance in one's career).

Parents can do two things to make the process of fitting in a little easier and safer for children. The first is to provide a standing invitation to have an open conversation with children about their worries and fears regarding peer relationships. The second is to help children grow a strong sense of self-esteem by loving, encouraging and protecting them, providing them with appropriate challenges and teaching them positive coping and decision-making skills. These two approaches will help decrease the likelihood that negative peer pressure will tempt children to make self-destructive decisions. Please see our Nurturing Children's Self-Esteem article for more information on this important subject. Please refer to the earlier section on disciplining children in middle-childhood for suggestions about how to help children learn good decision-making and coping skills.

 




Contact Information

Sarah Dinklage, LICSW
Executive Director

sdinklage@risas.org

Charles Cudworth, MA
Director, SAS

ccudworth@risas.org

Leigh Reposa, MSW, LICSW
Program Manager
lreposa@risas.org

Colleen Judge, LMHC                  Manager, SAS
cjudge@risas.org 

Kathleen Sullivan
Manager, Community Prevention
ksullivan@risas.org


300 Centerville Rd.
Suite 301 South 
Warwick, RI 02886
401-732-8680


powered by centersite dot net