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Omolola Olorunnisola: Helping Your Teen Deal with Financial Peer Pressure

Omolola Olorunnisola

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Peer pressure happens at different stages in life. How we handle it says a lot about how mature we are. It starts with your 3-year-old asking you to buy a particular type of bicycle or shoe or dress because his/her friends have it. Then it moves to them wanting to celebrate their birthdays the same way their friends did. By the time they become teenagers, the pressure is full-blown – they want to fit in and be seen as cool.

Teens face a lot of money-related pressure, especially in today’s world where the ownership of material things – flashy shoes, clothes, and cars – is perceived as success. Unfortunately, this is not limited to the teenage years, as we’ve seen adults try hard to keep up with the Joneses. Thankfully, the pressure can be effectively managed – it all boils down to the kind of relationship you have with your child and your money conversations with them.

Communication

Helping your child handle peer pressure depends on the type of relationship you have with them. Gone are the days when parents related with their children in an authoritarian style, the kids having no say. That style of parenting will not work with this generation of teens. It is important that parents create a friendly atmosphere and, at the same time, be firm when necessary. Your relationship with your kids should be one where the kids are comfortable enough to share their deepest worries with you. They should be able to talk to you about anything and everything. Once that type of relationship is in place, it will be easier to help them deal with any form of pressure.

Set Financial Goals

There is something about setting goals, it helps put things in perspective and keeps one focused. One way to cultivate healthy spending habits is to set money goals. Money goals are basically about encouraging your child to save towards something. A teenager with a savings goal will more likely be able to resist the urge to spend unwisely than a teenager who is not saving. Again, this is another reason your child should be financially literate. Regularly talking to children about how to spend money and exemplifying it would go a long way in helping them resist money-related pressure.

Don’t indulge them

To help teens overcome financial peer pressure, it is important that parents don’t encourage it by regularly handing them money. If you find this difficult to do as a parent, think about which is more important to you: raising your child to become financially responsible or raising a child who always wants to keep up with peers. If they must splurge, then maybe it is time they start earning money. Money worked for is more valued than money given. Instead of regularly giving them more money than they need, why don’t you invest the surplus and explain to them how the financial instrument you bought for them works. That way, they clearly see how money invested multiplies.

Social Media

Social media is all up in our faces and almost everyone is on it. Most teenagers with smartphones are on social media. There are a lot of show-offs there and these things send the wrong message to teens on what money should be spent on. Even for many adults, there’s a lot of pressure to flaunt wealth or belong on social media, now imagine how terrible it’ll be for an impressionable teenager.

This is why parents need to monitor their wards’ social media activities. If you notice they are focusing on the wrong things, redirect their attention to social media accounts of people who stand their ground despite what other people say, and independent-minded people who have become successful. This will serve as examples for them to emulate. If kids are allowed to venture into the world of social media without supervision, it can lead to the kind of peer pressure that affects one’s self-esteem and body image. You definitely don’t want your kids second-guessing themselves. As they grow older, you can slowly loosen your grip on their social media activities; that will show them you trust them enough to be responsible with their activities on the internet.

Peer pressure isn’t always negative. It can also be positive. You can help your child positively pressure their peers into becoming financially responsible when you teach them about money and show them to live financially responsible lives by being a model for them to emulate.

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Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Omolola Olorunnisola is the lead consultant at BullsnBears Markets, a financial consulting firm that specializes in providing financial advise and helping individuals build profitable investment portfolios. You can reach her via this email address [email protected]

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