Peer Preasure on Your Teen
Peers are any persons or group of people who have a close but generic relationship to one another.
Peer pressure is a social force exerted by a group or powerful/admired individual within a group. It is generally a pressure to conform to a social norm within any given group. Not all peer pressure is bad. When most people think of peer pressure they are thinking of the pressure to conform to a deviant behavior set.
Things like drug use, underage alcohol use, promiscuous sexual conduct, violent or aggressive acting out, or criminal behavior are examples of the negative peer pressure associated with teens.
How do you know the difference between good peer pressure and bad peer pressure?
Sometimes peer pressure leads us to do something that is not generally accepted but that serves a greater good - something that supports a cause. Can you live with yourself if you follow the group? Are you willing to face the fall out even if it means you must bear some negative consequences? Follow your gut instincts rather than your desires - they rarely steer you wrong when you really listen to them.
Why do teens seem to deal with more peer pressure than any other age group? No, teens are not subject to more peer pressure than other age groups. It is a perception myth that has us believing that teens deal with peer pressure in greater amounts than other groups. What is true of teens more than other groups is that the type of peer pressure they must deal with is often extremely hard to ignore.
Since the teen years are a testing ground for the adults we will become, it is very common for the peer pressure faced by teens to encourage behavior that is generally seen as being anti-social or boundary testing.
Being a parent of a teen you shouldn't think that the influence of your child's friends can always lead to some negative consequences. There are common examples of positive peer pressure that include - the pressure to stay quiet during exams, the pressure to show up at school, the pressure to follow rules that are important to a team or group, the pressure to obey laws, etc.
Teens try to find their way, asserting own independence, and learning for what is right and what is wrong. Because of the naturally rebellious nature of the teen years the urge to do things just because "the establishment" or "the parents" say you shouldn't is very strong.
In being rebellious teens are trying to carve out their own world view and their place within it; they are testing the limits and in doing so, they are testing themselves. Because of this, peer pressure can often lead teens astray.
Teens want to assert themselves as able to make their own life decisions and this can cause them to do some extreme acting out; acting out that is often egged on by peer pressure. Because some of the actions that teen peer pressure can lead to are so against the accepted norm of society we tend to think that peer pressure is more prevalent in teen populations. It is not more prevalent, it just shows up in more challenging and unsettling ways.
What are the most common ways that peer pressure shows up? Peer pressure shows up in a variety of ways, some positive and some negative.
| Some examples of positive peer pressure:|
|• Pressure to follow school or activity group rules.|
|• Pressure to respect the property of others.|
|• Pressure to not drink and drive.|
|• Pressure to join a service group.|
|• Pressure to get into college.|
| Some examples of negative peer pressure:|
|• Pressure to experiment with drugs or drink alcohol.|
|• Pressure to vandalize public or private property.|
|• Pressure to steal.|
|• Pressure to have a physical confrontation with another teen.|
|• Pressure to have sex before one is ready.|
The need to feel accepted is strong during the teen years. Self identity is not yet formed, it is just starting to be discovered, and this can lead to a steady state of uncertainty.
Teens want to belong and it is hard to belong if you are always going against the grain. This is why teens are more likely than other groups to succumb to group pressures of conformity.
Most often this pressure is not very harmful; teens in the same group will dress the same, talk the same, be interested in the same activities, listen to the same music, and spend time with the same people. But in extreme cases the need to be accepted can lead people to do things that they would not normally do on their own.
The teen who has felt marginalized by other members of the group has finally found a place where he/she is accepted and they do not want to lose the sense of security that acceptance in a group entails. Friends are a big part of the emerging self identity and the thought of losing them during the early stages of identity development is very hard to face.
The irony is that peer pressure to do drugs, or drink alcohol or have sex are often more perception than reality. Teens who fall into groups that engage in these behaviors often feel pressured to conform when the group itself is not really exerting any such pressure. The teens need to fit in causes the pressure, not the actions of the peer group.
Though the idea that a group with anti-social norms leads good kids astray may not be entirely true; the individual's insecurities may be the real culprit. Peer pressure is much more likely to lead a teen to walk, talk and act a certain way than it is to lead them to do bad, harmful or self destructive things.