Why Your Teen Needs Peer Pressure
Every parent worries about the effects of peer pressure on their teenager. And there is good reason for them to be concerned. Some peer pressure is welcomed, like friends urging your teen to go out for a sport, or to study with them. Other peer pressure is unwelcome, like urging your teen to smoke of drink.
The interesting thing that researchers are finding out about peer pressure is that it is an important developmental step for teens that actually helps them in the journey of becoming an independent adult. They are also finding that susceptibility to peer pressure of both kinds peaks around age 15, and that their brains derive more pleasure from social acceptance than adult brains do. It’s just a part of growing up.
I’ve always wondered why they all look alike, act alike, and dress alike if they are trying to “find themselves.” The adolescent crisis is all about how do I stay a part of my family, but at the same time be separate from my family. No wonder they appear confused!
What makes the difference between the teen who gives in to negative peer pressure and those who don’t give in? Kids who resist usually experience some degree of popularity with their friends, have families that are relatively healthy, and have good communication skills.
Those who don’t resist when they should seem to struggle with acceptance from other kids, have a lower sense of self-esteem, and have high social anxiety. It’s that anxiety that seems to make the most difference.
What can a parent do? For one thing, clearly defined boundaries are a big help for your teen. Helping your teen practice resisting negative teen peer pressure by strategizing what to do in different situations, and by talking about how to clearly communicate with other teens will help. But at the same time, parents need to give their teen room to make his or her own decisions. It works against successful navigation of the teen’s years if the parent is over-protective. So it’s a delicate balance between talking about it and yet knowing when to stay “hands off”
Question: How did you handle peer pressure when you were a teen?