What is peer pressure? The dictionary describes it as “a feeling that one must do the same things as other people of one’s age and social group to be liked or respected by them. Many parents wonder how to deal with peer pressure their teens face.
As a social phenomenon, there’s no escaping it; however, you can play a role in nurturing confident and resilient children. Letting them partake in activities like team building, sports, or performing arts classes will give them a healthy sense of belonging without the need to succumb to bad influences.
How to Deal With Peer Pressure: Positive vs. Negative
Parents and teachers tend to focus on negative peer pressure that may lead to:
- Underage sex
- Alcohol consumption
- Risky use of social media and smartphones
- Other symptoms or signs of peer pressure include; low moods, increased attitude and volatility, and bouts of depression.
However, positive peer pressure can provide kids with:
- Support to try new sports, food, and activities.
- Encourage them to do their best and have someone to chat to when they feel they haven’t performed to their expectations.
- Opportunities to meet new friends.
- Feedback as they try out new things and discuss differences.
- Positive examples of how to work with others and be kind to them.
- Friendship, belonging, and the chance to build life-long bonds.
Not all examples of peer pressure are bad. Positive peer pressure can be healthy and encouraging, provided your children hang out with good kids. At camps for example.
Why Are Teens So Easily Influenced By Peer Pressure?
Peer pressure teenage statistics reveal 85% of high schoolers have felt peer pressure. A recent study by the University of Maryland found that kids experience it as young as nine-years-old. The reason kids are influenced by peer pressure is because they want to feel a sense of belonging to a particular group.
What does peer pressure lead to? The negative type influences them to act in a way that is harmful to their physical and mental health, placing a group’s needs above their own. Today’s parents have a more challenging job as social media causes “virtual peer pressure.” It is more dangerous because it has the potential to remain online forever, which is why it’s important to make kids aware of the risks of caving to peer pressure.
Indicators of peer pressure include changes in mood and increased irritability, trying new things that seem out of character, a preoccupation with image, troubling falling asleep, loss of appetite, or over-eating.
How to Manage Negative Peer Pressure
The first step to helping your kids manage different types of peer pressure is to assure them it’s okay to feel confused or struggle with outside influences. Next is helping them feel good about themselves and developing strategies that empower them to make informed decisions.
Study Your Child
While you want to avoid being a helicopter parent AKA a parent who takes an overprotective or excessive interest in their child’s lives, you should still be tuned to your kids. Teens and peer pressure are an unavoidable combination, but paying attention to behavior changes, allows intervention when and if necessary.
Focus on Developing Their Self-Esteem
Low self-esteem and peer pressure can have adverse effects. Kids with low self-esteem possess a strong need to receive validation through external sources. This fills the psychic space where their self-esteem is supposed to be.
However, the effects of peer pressure in positive environments like after-school sports or extracurricular team building activities may provide the support, friendship, challenges, and a sense of belonging that nurtures a healthy self-image.
Get to Know Your Child's Friends
How do you resist peer pressure? Helping your kids grow into confident and well-adjusted adults and ensuring their friends are positive influences. Driving your child and their friends to events such as birthday parties, or allowing them to hang out at your home, will enable you to get to know them better. The same goes for their friends’ parents. Knowing whether their parenting style is similar to yours equips you to make the best decisions regarding your kids’ extracurricular activities.
Encourage Open Communication
Most human beings have experienced or succumbed to peer pressure activities at some point in their lives. If your child is uncomfortable with something, you should encourage them to speak with you about it. And this goes for parents too.
If, for instance, there’s an unsupervised event that you’re unhappy about, you have to be able to communicate why. Being authoritative but understanding rather than judgmental and authoritarian makes kids more comfortable discussing experiences related to peer pressure stress.
Teach Them to Stop and Think First
The best way to avoid negative peer pressure is to raise kids who have a clear idea about their values but can still interact with people who have different ones. Educating kids just to say no or what not to do isn't enough.
You want them to understand why something isn’t a great choice. Developing soft skills, like emotional intelligence, is vital to navigating through challenging situations. Drama classes, team sports, and obstacle-based classes at Hot Ground Gym, where they have to collaborate with others, can help.
Discuss Effective Responses
Children without a strategy to respond to peer pressure are likely to react quickly or give in. Coming up with healthy ways that look at how to manage negative peer pressure together with your child will empower them. For instance, if they’re asked to bunk school, they might suggest getting together afterward or just saying they prefer not to participate and leave.
Teaching them how to say no to peer pressure is essential, as sometimes justifying their refusal to participate may lead to more anxiety. One of the easiest ways to stop peer pressure of the wrong kind is to encourage them to make friends with like-minded children who do well at school and lead balanced lives.
The cause and effect of peer pressure can lead teens in the wrong direction. The best assurance you can afford is letting them know you are a phone call, not an angry lecture away from a parenting perspective. Placing them in environments that promote positive growth, like encouraging them to attend classes at Hot Ground Gym, will do them a world of good. Contact us to find out more about our character-building programs.