Peer pressure

As children grow up friendships become an important aspect of their lives. Along with developing unique personalities and traits they also develop the need to be more independent and have the freedom to choose their friends. Adolescence is a volatile age. During pre-teen and teen years the opinion of friends starts to outweigh the opinion of parents. That is when peer pressure starts to really do its damage. High school can be a confusing time and that is where peer pressure among teenagers is most prevalent. Friends that you trust and hang out with all day in school and after can be a major source of peer pressure causing to try out things like smoking or drugs to remain “cool” which we would not otherwise. On the other hand, however, studies suggest that peer pressure can also play a vital role in shaping a teen’s personality and can provide them with the necessary motivation to work hard and achieve their goals.

Here are 7 signs to look out for if your child is under pressure:

1. Behavior changes. Look out for changes in your child’s behavior, especially when they are around certain groups of friends. Watch for the things they say, the way they act and the things they do; if they seem to change around certain people, this is a sign that they may feel under pressure to behave in a certain way.

2. Feeling like they don’t fit in. If your teenager talks to you about feeling like they don’t fit in, this probably stems from the fact that they feel different in some way to their peers. The reality is that everyone is different, but during the teenage years especially, there is often a desire to fit into a certain mold and if you feel like you’re not part of the crowd, this can cause you to feel very isolated.

3. Trying new things. Peer pressure often prompts youngsters to try new things, which aren’t always positive. Many teens admit to trying smoking and drinking alcohol long before they are legally allowed to and this is often the result of being goaded into it by others or to appear cool in front of friends. Look out for signs of drinking or the smell of cigarette smoke. Often, these things are part and parcel of growing up, but sometimes they can become the start of unhealthy habits and it’s best to nip problems in the bud if there is a likelihood that they may get worse. Drugs can also be a danger for teens experiencing peer pressure.

4. Focus on image. One of the most obvious implications of peer pressure is an obsession with image; this may include the way a child dresses, the clothing they want to buy and the looks they want to copy. If you are suddenly being pestered to buy designer labels or your child wants to take control of their wardrobe and starts to buy things that you perhaps wouldn’t approve of, this is probably linked to pressure from peers and also wider pressure from society, which trickles down through social media and outlets such as magazines and television programs.

5. Making comparisons. It’s human nature to compare yourself to others, but it can be very unhealthy and in younger people, it’s often a sign of peer pressure. Often, teens want to look thinner, taller, more tanned, have different colored hair, dress like so and so, all to please others and to fit in with an image, which is accepted by others. If you hear your teen saying they want what somebody else has got or they wished they looked like somebody else, these are tell-tale signs.

6. Doing things you don’t want to do. Often, there’s a scenario when youngsters get into trouble and the excuse is ‘I didn’t want to do it’ or ‘they made me do it’ and the truth is that peer pressure can prompt people to do things that they don’t want to do. There’s often a fear of failure, a fear of looking weak or uncool and a dread of not fitting in with the popular crowd.

7. Performance at school. If you have a high flier and grades suddenly drop, there is likely to be a cause and sometimes, this may be peer pressure. Often, intelligence is not seen as being very cool and kids who do make an effort to be attentive in class can be subjected to cruel jibes, which may affect their performance at school. Some may also make a conscious effort to do badly so that they fit in with others.

Although these are signs that can greatly indicate that your child is suffering from the effects of peer pressure, some kids suffering from the same issue may show subtler signs or no signs at all. Be sure that you know what your child is truly going through. Find out if your kid is being pressured into doing or saying things they wouldn’t otherwise. Identifying the issue is the first step parents can take to helping kids move past peer pressure.

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