Dealing with Peer PressurePeer pressure exists because human beings feel less guilt and powerlessness when others join them in bad behaviors. If someone refuses to join them it threatens their feelings about the choices they have made for themselves. The saying Misery loves company is true in that those who feel miserable can tell themselves that everyone feels this way if they can make everyone around them miserable too. If someone is happy they become a threat to the unhappy person's way of existence. Peer pressure can then turn into bullying.
Peer pressure is an inevitable part of life for a teenager. Adolescents are only beginning to discover and to choose who they are and who they want to become. Peers are a vital and important part of this process. Family members have had years to influence a child's development, but teenagers have discovered that there is a world full of diversity and choices to be made separate from their family.
Although parents may find this stage of development frightening, it is to be encouraged if the teen is to learn to feel confident in their ability to choose for themselves. The role of the parent is to teach and train the child so that when they are old enough, they can navigate the world successfully by utilizing the tools the parent has given them in childhood. Letting go and allowing them to stumble and pull themselves back up is an exercise in patience and trust.
If a teen has developed self-confidence and the ability to stand up for themselves peer pressure will have a minimal effect during the teen years. Everyone gives into peer pressure at times, even adults. A teen might be persuaded to ask to go to a party they know their parent doesn't approve of, but will adhere to the parent's final decision. An adult might be persuaded to get a particular haircut because so many of their friends have done so. I know one woman who took up smoking in her 40's because all the women in her office were smokers and she wanted to fit in.
Telling your teen to avoid peer pressure is only mildly helpful as peer pressure is inevitable. Teaching your child, ages 3-12, the importance of living by a set of personal standards and morals is the best way to help them deal with peer pressure throughout their life.
Every time you do something in order to get along with someone or to avoid ridicule you lose a little piece of yourself, and you get closer to forgetting how to make decisions based on your own desires rather than on the desires of others. Take control of your life, create your own power and be assertive. It will pay off.
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