Teach Ethical & Moral Values: Reducing Negative Peer Pressure for School Age Children

The third tip for parents in reducing school age children’s negative peer pressure is teaching ethical and moral values that will last their children a lifetime. 1

Code of Ethics

As a college child development professor my students wrote their own code of ethics. What ethics and moral values do you live by? What character traits do you desire for your children to emulate? Your children are already learning your values and ethics by observing what you say and what you do. Do they match?

Your Children’s Values

Then consider what you consciously want them to learn. When our girls were little we began reading stories based on character traits, such as honesty, courage, and responsibility. Learning about values continues through elementary school, especially as children study historical figures.

Ethical Dilemmas

When school age children are faced with ethical dilemmas such as lying to keep from getting in trouble or telling the truth, what will they do? What about cheating or letting a friend “copy” his/her homework? Many children perceive what adults may call cheating as “helping out their friends.”


Some families rely on Biblical principles or religious beliefs for teaching morals, values and ethics.  For example, what’s the difference between right and wrong? Our society teaches moral relativism. An Old Testament Proverb says, “It is by his deeds that a lad distinguishes himself if his conduct is pure and right. 2

Saying, “No.”

The fourth tip is setting limits that tell your children you care enough about them to say “no.” 1 In an increasing permissive society, saying, “No,” is often the exception. Parents can help their children refuse negative peer pressure by establishing rules that are followed regularly. Setting boundaries helps your children learn how to set boundaries with their friends.

Know Children’s Friends

The fifth parental tip for helping school age children reduce negative peer pressures is get to know your children’s friends. Encourage your children to invite friends over to play. Let them hang out with your family in your home or attend activities together. Observe how they influence each other. This will help you learn about your children as well as their friends.


Appropriate adult involvement and supervision are important. “Strong parental presence has a protective effect against peer pressure…when children are appropriately supervised by adults, and adults are actively involved in their lives, both at a physical and emotional level, they are less susceptible to peer pressure.” 3

Open Your Home

Commit to keeping your home open, no matter what your children “drag” home. I’d much rather know the friends my children are drawn to and learn what’s behind their wild hair or outrageous clothing than make assumptions. Many nice kids are hidden behind these exteriors. Implementing these three tips gives parents more tools for helping their school age children reduce negative peer pressure.



  1. Adolescent Rebellion Can be Quelled, kidsgrowth.com/resources/articledetail. 
  2. New American Standard Bible, Proverbs 20:21
  3. Peer Pressure: Why it seems worse than ever and how to help kids resist it, Malia Jacobson, August 29, 2013, www.parentmap.com
  4. Image: ethics-2110583_1280 [Pixabay.com]

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