Take a look around the next time you’re in high school, at college campus, or at the movies with friends — the people you see around you make up your “peer group.” They’re the people you see just about every day. They’re sympathetic to your situation as they are going through the same things as you are. Having a peer group means that you get to hang out with people who totally get you and, even better, give you some independence from adults.
What is peer pressure?
Peer pressure is about being influenced and choosing to do something you wouldn’t otherwise do, in the hope of feeling accepted and valued by others. It isn’t just about doing something against your will.
Wanting to be more like your friends is a normal part of being a teenager. Peer pressure isn’t always a bad thing, but when it causes concern for you or your family, there are things you can do to help manage it.
Peer pressure can be positive. For example, you might be influenced to become more assertive, try new activities, or to get more involved with school. But it can be negative too. Some teenagers might be influenced to try things they normally wouldn’t be interested in, such as smoking or taking part in antisocial behavior.
Children who experience poor self-esteem, those who feel they have few friends, and sometimes those with special needs might be more likely to give in to peer pressure. These children might feel that the only way they’ll be included and accepted in social groups is by taking on the behavior, attitudes and look of a group.
Why Do Teenagers Give in to Peer Pressure?
Some kids give in to peer pressure because they want to be liked, to fit in, or because they worry that other kids might make fun of them if they don't go along with the group. Others go along because they are curious to try something new that others are doing. The idea that "everyone's doing it" can influence some kids to leave their better judgment, or their common sense, behind.
When to be concerned
If you notice changes in your child’s mood, behavior, eating or sleeping patterns, which you think are because of her friends, it might be time to have a talk with them. Some mood and behavior changes are normal in teenagers, but if they go on for a few weeks, you might start to worry about your child’s mental health. Warning signs include:
- Low moods, tearfulness or feelings of hopelessness
- Aggression or antisocial behavior
- Sudden changes in behavior, often for no obvious reason
- Trouble eating or sleeping
- Reluctance to go to school
- Withdrawal from previously enjoyed activities
How to deal with peer
When your own values are being compromised you might be pressured to do what everyone else is doing. However, you can fight peer pressure and keep your self-respect.
Think through situations ahead of time.
Plan how you’d say ‘no’ if someone offered you a cigarette, a drink, or a ride with someone who shouldn’t be driving. You can even practice saying them in the mirror. That way, if you find yourself in that situation and you barely have to think, you’ll come off cool and collected, and the folks who are pressuring you will be less likely to push back after you say no.
Try to avoid bad peer pressure by spending time with friends who don’t make you uncomfortable or try to get you to do things you don’t want to. You can also avoid places where you feel uncomfortable. For example, if a teammate wants to meet in the parking lot to smoke before basketball practice, tell them you have something else to do, but you’ll see them when practice starts. If friends are hanging out at someone’s house before a dance—without any parents around—and you’re worried that they might be up to something, suggest grabbing something to eat at a restaurant. Or, tell them you’ll meet them at the dance.
If someone’s trying to get you to do something you know you shouldn’t, or something that makes you feel nervous, say ‘no.’ And be proud that you’re being strong and doing what’s right for you. Stand up straight, make eye contact, and don’t be apologetic for your actions. Rather, you should feel good about what you are doing.
Be a good friend.
Don’t ever put a friend in a situation where they feel bad about not wanting to do something that you might want to do. If someone’s trying to pressure your friend, help him or her stand up. You can say, “No thanks. We don’t do that,” or, “Sorry, we’re on our way to go to the mall.”
Stand up for what’s right.
Have you ever been in a situation where your friends started making cruel jokes about someone else at your school? Maybe it was someone who just didn’t seem to “fit in”, or someone with a physical or mental disability. Perhaps you were the one on the receiving end of the laughter.
Making fun of someone else isn’t cool. It hurts. It hurts the person being ridiculed because they’re being rejected for who they are. It hurts the person dishing out the abuse because it lowers his or her character.
If you’re concerned
Start by talking with your child. The next step is to talk to your GP, who can put you in contact with mental health counselor or another appropriate professional.
Finally if nothing works then see a counselor who works as a neutral experienced person who can help. Homeopathy and counseling in combination does wonders both mentally and physically for your child.