The other morning as we were rushing around getting ready to go to school my son had a complete meltdown. He was choosing a toy to take to take with him to school and after more than 10 minutes rummaging around his endless toys he still couldn’t choose one.
“Please pick a toy and lets go” – I said but to no avail. He was just sitting there taking all the toys from the box and getting increasingly more and more frustrated with me rushing him.
“Please pick a toy NOW!” – I shouted. I had ran out of patience and I too was getting very frustrated with his behaviour and couldn’t understand why he was taking so long to pick a toy!
We were now very late for school and there was no way I could convince him to choose his toy and then in between all the shouting and crying he said: “…but mummy my toys are not strong or cool enough. My friends will make fun of me”.
“What do you mean? Has anyone said anything to you?” To which he replied that sometimes his friends make fun of his toys particularly when he won’t let them play with them and say that if he won’t lend them his toys they won’t be his friend anymore.
I was shocked. I felt awful for shouting at him. He was just so upset and worried about his friends making fun of his toys.
In my defence I was totally caught of guard by this. I was prepared for my son to have to deal with peer pressure at some point during his school years but surely not this early in the game! I mean these kids still need help to wipe their bum, cross the road safely and can’t even tell the time yet. How can they be so mean and intimidating?
Now for the biggest of the challenges: How can I explain peer pressure to my extremely sensitive 5 year old and reduce his anxiety?
I had no idea but I had to think of something fast as by then we were extremely late for school. I kept it simple and said to him that his real friends would still be his friends independent of which toys he prefers to play with. I explained that sometimes people make fun of other’s things when they are jealous. Maybe they wanted to play with his toys and they just didn’t know how to ask. I also tried to explain that if everyone was the same, behaved the same and liked the same things the world would be a very boring place.
I’m not sure how much he really grasped or how much he took in but he did calm down and we manage to get to school only about 5 minutes late!
The last thing I want is for my son to succumb to peer pressure (intentional or not).
Has anything like this ever happened to your little one? What would you do if it happened to you?