**This is a guest post from Nick Diliberto from PreteenMinistry.net
With back to school time, preteens are exposed to their peers more frequently. And when you put a group of pre-adolescents together for long periods of time, you can bet they will be influenced by one another’s actions. In other words, peer pressure surrounds them constantly.
Here’s one definition of peer pressure – the feeling that someone your own age is pushing you toward making a certain choice, good or bad. Unfortunately, the choices that preteens are being pushed towards are often bad. As leaders, our job is to help preteens with this issue.
Here are some ways you can help preteens deal with peer pressure:
1. Create positive peer pressure
Preteens need a safe place where they are influenced by tpeers to make good choices. You can create that environment at church. Be intentional about providing preteens opportunities to build healthy relationships with each other. They need a place to love and be loved, to celebrate and be celebrated, to pray and be prayed for, and to accept and be accepted.
2. Talk About It
Think of ways you can address the issue. Maybe do a series on the topic at your weekend services. Or simply allow the space for students to talk about their struggles in a small group setting. Ask how they experience peer pressure at school and then listen. It can be extremely helpful to share their struggles and failures in this area. This approach also provides adult leaders an opportunity to offer good Biblical advice on how to resist negative peer pressure.
3. Form a youth panel discussion
Preteens look up to the teenagers at your church, so leverage that influence by forming a youth panel discussion. Invite a few high school students to talk about peer pressure with your group. Prepare the questions ahead of time and encourage them to share their experiences with the group. Ask them to share both successes and failures. Preteens will learn a lot from the wisdom and experience teenagers share.
Partner with parents
Parents sometimes feel powerless when it comes to helping preteens with peer pressure. They often get a lot of resistance, having to resort to punishment as the primary method of deterrence. Parents welcome help from the church. It is best to ask how you can walk alongside of them in this area. Then listen and be open to their suggestions. There is no cookie cutter approach to partnering with parents on this issue or any other. Simply keep the lines of communication open.
Nick Diliberto is the creator of PreteenMinistry.net, which provides creative curriculum and resources for preteen ministry. He is also the preteen columnist for Children’s Ministry Magazine.