For some teenagers, fitting in is the most important thing. They constantly think about how people perceive them. Do their clothes look cool enough? Is their hair styled correctly? Do they look fat?
Peer pressure is a huge influence of many problems in teenagers today; from drinking, eating disorders, and drug use.
The definition of peer pressure is the social influence from a peer group that exerts on individual members, as each member attempts to conform to the expectations of the group, and can also be called conformity. Kids do this because they want to be cool, fit in, and be praised by their peers. If they don’t succumb to peer pressure some other pressures at become prevalent like bullying, another serious issue that we will cover in a later week.
“Everybody’s Doing It”
It is almost unheard of to not hear of peer pressure, in almost any stage of life from adolescence to adulthood. Their peers pressure them constantly to attempt risky behavior
About.com gives us a few risk factors Peer Pressure Risk Factors
There are certain risk factors for peer pressure, personality traits that make you more prone to give in to pressure. The traits that put you at higher risk for falling in to the peer pressure trap include:
- low self esteem
- lack of confidence
- uncertainty about ones place within a given peer group
- no personal interests exclusive of one's peer group
- feeling isolated from peers and/or family
- poor academic abilities or performance
- fear of one's peers
- lack of strong ties to friends
- feeling that friends could turn on you
- close bond with a bully
Some risks teens may take can include binge drinking. At parties teens can be easily influenced to try and drink alcohol. Another risk is drug use. Teens can feel the need to fit in and smoke cigarettes and even try more drugs like marijuana and prescription pills. It can also cause dangerous behavior, ever heard of, “if all your friends jumped off a bridge would you do it too?”.
Prevention works best when you are fully prepared. Talk to your child about peer pressure, alcohol, and drugs. Let them know how peer pressure works and how they can combat it. Preparing statements like, “I can’t smoke because I have asthma” or “I don’t drink, I’m driving tonight”. Even simply telling them to say I cannot do drugs because my parent’s drug test me can work.
Don’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable, and if you feel pressured you can always just walk away. “But they are my friends!” Let your friends know you do not want to do the activity and if they were really your friend they wouldn’t want to do anything that hurts you. Making new friends may be another option. Peer pressure is hard to overcome but it is well worth it, kids may make mistakes but keeping them safe is important. Please talk to you kids today about peer pressure.
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