According to research, one of the biggest challenges year six pupils experience when they start secondary school is peer pressure.

It is a period in which tweens desire two things;

1. Belonging

To be liked, approved of, and part of a group of sorts


2. Independence

Independence from parents / family / home

Unfortunately, these two desires can often lead to wrong decision making, be it behaviour, choice of friends, or the seriousness with which he / she takes her studies.

According to an article in, the need for belonging and independence is of paramount importance to tweens.

‘Middle school is when children begin to spend significantly more time with friends over family. While needing to be an individual, they do not want to stand out from peers, particularly same sex peers. They seek group membership at almost any cost, including acting cruelly to others outside the group. The rate of social cruelty and bullying spikes during these years, especially among girls, and young teens are particularly vulnerable to the influence of aggression in all its forms.’

Michael Anthony, PHD

During a session I recently ran for year six pupils, I asked them to list their three biggest fears / anxieties about going to secondary school. Roughly 95% of them listed a fear of not making friends and bullying in their top two.

It is a period in which children are vulnerable to making the wrong decisions about friendships and behaviour. And the biggest underlying reason for this is because they do not yet know who they are.

When a youngster doesn’t know who he or she is, in terms of identity and values, he / she is all too likely to either be easily led astray or retreat into a shell of worry and fear.

The key to empowering children to make the right decisions, the right friends, and not fall prey to negative behaviour lies in enabling him / her to identify his or her values. By identifying which values are most important to him / her, and why each one is so important, he / she is better equipped with the knowledge and understanding of who he / she is.

As well as enabling them to understand the importance and reasoning of the four key British values, OA Empowerment coaching sessions enable children and young people to identify their own personal values themselves, as against being told what their values are.

Hence, the findings are so much more authentic and powerful.


1. Knowledge and understanding of who he /she is

2. Knowledge and understanding of the path to take

3. A clear understanding of the kind of individuals he or she should be friends with

4. Positive self-worth, confidence, and pride in who he / she is, resulting in far less likelihood of being impressionable

5. Good behaviour, consistent attendance, and sustained productivity

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