When you choose to do something because you want to feel valued and accept by your friends, it is called peer pressure. Teenagers strive to fit in with their peers as they begin to spend less of their free time with their families and more of it engaged in activities with friends. It can be positive or negative. For example, you might be influenced to try new things such as activities in school, healthy activities and to get more involved with school, that’s the positive. But it can be negative too because some teenagers choose to try something new that they are not interested with such as smoking, abusing alcoholic drinks and drugs. They just try it because they don’t want to be out of place with their friends. This peer pressure might result in teenagers who choose to wear the same clothes, hairstyle or jewelries as their friends. They might do what their friends do such as doing risky things or breaking rules, dating or taking part in sexual activities and listening to the music that are not good to listen because of some words. Coping well with peer influence is about getting the balance right between being yourself and fitting in with your group. There are some teenagers who are more likely to be negatively influenced by their peers. For example, a teenager who has low self-esteem and feel that he or she has only few friends might feel that before he or she interact with another group, he or she must first do what the teenagers are doing so he or she will not be out of place. Hence, teenager who has strong self-esteem is better at resisting negative peer influence. Positive friendships help self-esteem, likewise, self-esteem helps in establishing good relationships. Let’s put it in a situation. If you are a parent then your child is being influenced too much by his or her peers and that she’s selling out on his or her values to fit in with her friends. As a parent, you might be concerned if your child won’t be able to say no if he or she gets pressure to try risky things. Your child might do what his or her friends do, but not all things because you’ve been influenced your child over the long term. Your child has a strong sense and values of himself or herself and it’s more likely to know when and where to limit when it comes to assessing risks. Keeping the lines of communication open can make your child feel comfortable talking of you if he or she swayed to do things she’s uncomfortable with. You can also suggest ways to say no if your child has been influenced to do things he or she doesn’t want to do. Building your child’s sense of self-esteem can help her feel more confident to make his or her own decisions and push back on peer influence. Having friends and feeling connected to a group gives teenagers a sense of belonging and being valued, which helps develop confidence. Friendships also help teenagers learn important social and emotional skills, such as being sensitive to other people’s thoughts, feelings and wellbeing (Raising Children.net, 2015). This problem might result a dip self-influence to the teenagers who were experiencing it. It can take a normally self-confident child and make him or her someone who is not sure about themselves and has low self-esteem. This might also affect his or her academic performances. Sometimes, economic backgrounds are vastly disparate. For the teenagers, it will become a bone of contention. For example, if a teenager come from poor economic backgrounds or let’s just say that they come from a family which might not give them money to spend extravagantly, he or she might feel ashamed about themselves and his or her family because in the peer’s eyes, he or she is somehow weird individual. Another possible effect of it is that a teenager might think that the world is against them. In a few cases, it is such that it draws teenagers completely away from family and friends who mean well. They shut themselves off and fall into bad company. The teenagers might engage in self-harm and suicide ideation. They could attempt self-harm or even dream of committing suicide, engage in suicidal thoughts and even ultimately engage in suicide (Padma, 2014). When you find it difficult to handle or manage, you can talk to someone you trust. Talking to a parent, teacher, or school counselor can help you feel much better and prepare you for the next time you face peer pressure. Don’t feel guilty if you’ve made a mistake because peer pressure is not always a bad thing. Positive peer pressure can be used to pressure bullies into acting better toward other teens (Lyness, Ph.D., 2015). It is easy to fall into peer pressure. But you have to keep reminding ourselves that there are ways to overcome it. Peer pressure is extremely hard to avoid in our fast-growing world, but you can try to lower the chances of even being pressured. The best way to avoid it is by interacting with other teens who have the same limit as theirs. And if you do make friends with different boundaries, you have to make sure that they understand and respect your decision. If you stay aware of your feelings and you always have trusted friends by your side with similar goals and interests and who can help you, this will also help you to stay away from peer pressure. And most importantly, you must have the courage to say no, the confidence to explain why, and the faith to know that you have made the right decision. With your friends, family, and God in your life, you know that you can overcome peer pressure (Jw.org/en/teenagers, p.128) In conclusion, peer pressure cannot be avoided nor should children be wrapped in cotton wool and kept away like precious figurines. The key is to respond promptly and with conviction. If you do, you might be surprised how quickly your peers will back off.
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