Peer pressure is not isolated to one age group, everyone needs to belong or feel connected to his or her own age group. Kids and adults are partnered to peer pressure. Teens like adults are influenced by their peer group. This is normal behavior and is modeled for teenagers by the adults around them. As adults, we are familiar with the expression “keeping up with the Jones’,” a sense of wanting to fit in. Adults conform to the social standards set by their peers and teenagers are very carefully watching the adults that influence his or her life.
Teen peer pressure -is more than just a phase that young people go through. Whether it leads to extreme hair and clothing, tattoos, or body piercing, peer pressure is a powerful reality and many adults do not realize its effects. It can be a negative force in the lives of children and adolescents, often resulting in their experimenting with tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs.
Teenagers want to be with people their own age. Children, especially during adolescence, begin to spend a lot more time with their friends, and less time with their family. This makes them more susceptible to the influences of their peers. It is important to remember that teenage friends can have a positive influence on a youth. During teenage years, young people are more accepting of their peers feelings and thoughts. Peers can and do act as positive role models.
Parents, teachers, and other adults should encourage teenagers to find friends that have similar interests and views as you a parent, educator, religious and community leader are trying to develop in the teen. The critical adult views including doing well in school, having respect for others, avoiding drug use, smoking, drinking and other risky behaviors.
During adolescence, young people put into practice risk-taking behaviors as they are trying to find their own identity and become more independent. This makes them very vulnerable to experimenting or becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol, sexual activity, and defiance of authority, especially if there is peer pressure to do so. Adolescents who use drugs are also more likely to become involved in gang activity, have low self-esteem, behavior problems, school performance problems, and depression.
Parents, teachers, religious and community leaders want to promote positive peer pressure among teens. Parents and other adults often believe that teenagers do not value their opinions. In reality, studies suggest that parents have tremendous influence over their children, especially teenagers. No matter the age of their children, parents, caregivers and other adult role models should never feel helpless about countering the negative effects of peer pressure.
Here are some suggestions what parents and other adults can do:
o Establish and maintain good communications
o Nurture strong self-esteem
o Avoid criticism that takes the form of ridicule or shame
o Monitor your teens activities
o Role-play peer pressure situations
o Talk openly and honestly about stealing, alcohol, illegal drugs, and sex
o Avoid attacking the teen’s friends- criticizing a teenagers choice of friend can be perceived by a teen as a personal attack.
o Be an involved parent
o Ask questions and enjoy listening to teenagers as he or she talks
o Get teenagers involved in youth groups, community activities and peer monitoring programs
o Help the teen understand the difference between image (expressions of youth culture) and identity (who he or she is)
Peer pressure during childhood and adolescence equips young people to develop healthy friendships, self-identity, self-esteem, and self-reliance. It is healthy for everyone to talk about how they feel what they need, desire and want. Parents mistakenly assume that their teen does not want to talk to them, but it may just be that the teenager does not want to talk about his or her bad grades, their bad behavior and how much trouble they are in. Usually teenagers are more willing to talk about something they are interested in or something positive that is about them.
Develop a habit of talking with your teen everyday. Building a strong close open relationship with him or her while they are young will make it easier for your teen to discuss problems, concerns and other sensitive issues associated with school, relationships, and other life stressors.