Peer pressure has its good points and its bad points; it depends on what is actually happening. Many children learn new skills simply by watching and copying their peers. This is a very common method of learning for young children. They can watch a sibling build a basic block tower and then complete one himself; they can observe the negotiating intricacies of social interactions and apply these themselves. Children and their peers constantly influence one another’s development and learning.
As adults we often ‘second guess’ and read the body language of the child to interpret the needs and desires of our toddlers but children are not so accommodating in reading these cues. The ability to fit in and thrive in their environment requires effective communication, and this usually involves talking. This need to communicate with their peers and others around them also motivates them to develop and expand their language skills.
The Power of Peer Pressure
The desire to be accepted and to do what an older sibling or friend can do is very strong with young preschool children. This will often drive them to do things for others that they may not usually do, such as eating vegetables for the nanny or at a friend’s house. Cleaning up their toys when asked by the nanny, taking a nap when asked to , or patiently waiting for a turn whilst at preschool. Use this tool and encourage the older sibling to be a role model to the younger one, this is also very empowering for the youngest who is demonstrating.
Sharing, turn taking, cooperation and negotiation are important social skills which children learn through interactions with their peers, their family and their caregivers. Even toddlers learn valuable lessons from the response they receive to certain behaviours. Tears and tantrum can work at home with Mum and Dad but other children watching this may not be so impressed by this kind of behaviour so the child learns to use other skills or techniques to express their feelings.
So use the power of peer pressure in the early years and teach your child valuable social skills to take with them.