Peer Pressure: learn to face, learn to say NO

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Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is the most biggest issue that the kids face in schools, students face in colleges and the youngsters face in the corporate sector. It is reported recently that once  kids cross the threshold into adolescence, they become more bonded with their friends and the advices given by their parents on drinking and smoking falls on deaf ears. Parental in addition to the knowledge departed by various teachers are considered as the conventional wisdom. Researchers at Columbia University and Queens College in New York said that peer influence is vastly overrated and that parents shouldn’t be let off the hook. Indeed, peers become an important influence on behavior during adolescence, and peer pressure has been called a hallmark of an adolescent experience. It is most pronounced with respect to style, taste, appearance, ideology, and values. The pressure is commonly associated with episodes of adolescent risk taking (such as delinquency, drug abuse, sexual behaviors, and reckless driving) because these activities commonly occur in the company of peers. Moreover, affiliation with friends who themselves had been already engaged in risk behaviors has been shown to be a strong predictor of an adolescent’s own behavior. In actual, it only takes one to establish a start, maybe positive or negative.

peer-pressure

What scientific research tells us about peer influence?

“There are two main features that seem to distinguish teenagers from adults in their decision making,” says Laurence Steinberg, a researcher at Temple University in Philadelphia. He added, “during early adolescence in particular, teenagers are drawn to the immediate rewards of a potential choice and are less attentive to the possible risks. Second, teenagers in general are still learning to control their impulses, to think ahead, and to resist pressure from others.” These skills develop gradually, as a teen’s ability to control his or her behavior gets better throughout adolescence. According to Dr. B. J. Casey, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, teens are very quick and accurate in making judgements and decisions on their own and in situations where they have time to think. However, when they have to make decisions in the heat of the moment or in social situations, their decisions are often influenced by external factors like peers. I also came to found that in a study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), teen volunteers played a video driving game, either alone or with friends watching. What  the researchers discovered is the number of risks teens took in the driving game got doubled when their friends were watching as compared to when the teens played the game alone. This outcome indicates that teens may find it more difficult to control impulsive or risky behaviors when their friends are around, or in situations that are emotionally charged.

How to cope up with peer pressure?

Peers play a large role in the social and emotional development of children and adolescents, and can be positive and supportive. Positive because, they can help each other develop new skills, or stimulate interest in books, music or extra-curricular activities. However, peers can also have a negative influence. They can encourage each other to skip classes, steal, cheat, use drugs or alcohol, have sex or become involve in other risky behaviors; which indeed, happens in reality. The majority of teens fall into the trap beginning with using drugs or alcohol as a result of peer pressure. Moreover, problems include teasing and bullying, loneliness, ostracism, gender discrimination, poor performance, etc. are also noticed in the teenagers during school life.

Kids often give in to peer pressure because they prefer to fit in. They want to be liked and they worry that they may be left out or made fun of if they don’t go along with the group. These young kids are not aware of their strength, their generosity and  thus need motivation and support. I would like to safe-guard them through formulating some basic tips that may help kids deal with peer pressure:

  • Simply stay away from peers who pressure you to do things that seem wrong or dangerous.
  • Be bold, learn how to say “no” sometimes and practice how to avoid or get out of situations which feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
  • Spend time with other kids who resist peer pressure. It helps to have at least one friend who is also willing to say “no.”
  • If you have problems with peer pressure, talk to a grown up you trust, like a parent, teacher or school counselor.

peer-pressure        no to peer pressure

Well, we are acknowledged about the fact that ‘charity begins at home’. Therefore the parents themselves can also help by recognizing the problems that their children face  peer pressure. The following are tips for parents to help their children deal with peer pressure:

  • Becoming more familiar with the kids and encourage open communication with their children so that they know they can come to them and express their difficulties in an honest manner.
  • By teaching their children to be assertive always, and to resist themselves from getting involved in dangerous or inappropriate situations.
  • As being parents, their duty is to know their child’s friends. If any problems arises, they may share their concerns with the respective parents.
  • They must help their child to develop self-confidence. It is seen that the kids who feel good about themselves are less vulnerable to peer pressure.
  • The parents need to develop backup plans to help their kids get out of uncomfortable or dangerous situations. For example, it is better to let the children know that the parents will always come to get them from school, so that they do not  feel worried or unsafe.

If the children has ongoing difficulties with peer pressure, it would be better to talk to his or her respective teachers, principal, school counselor or family doctor. If the parents feel to have concerns about their child’s mood and behavior, it would be wiser to go for a consultation with a trained and qualified mental health professional.