One of the peskier aspects of teenage is peer-pressure.
Peer-pressure is a rite of passage that all of us go through but its impact varies from person to person. In a nutshell, peer-pressure is the influence that friends, people and individuals are capable of exerting on person. Some children are able to brush it off without any issues while it negatively impacts some other children. Sometimes adults underestimate the effects of peer pressure on their children because they were teenagers long ago in a different time.
Here are 6 ways in which peer-pressure can negatively affect children. They are listed in order of increasing importance.
1. A dip in self-confidence – Just as some influences can be positive, some influences can be negative too. Peer pressure can take a normally self-confident child and make him/her someone who is not sure about themselves and has low self-esteem. Low self-esteem and a lack of confidence in turn might impact a child’s general well-being.
2. Academics are affected – For teenagers, it is important they be accepted by their peer group. This means that their peer group’s approval gets placed above that of their parents and teachers. This in turn has a direct effect on their academics. Sometimes their academics are affected because despite being capable of performing well, they choose not to because in the eyes of their peers it makes them look ‘uncool’. Sometimes their academics are affected because in an effort to fit in with their peer group, they place more emphasis on being social rather than working on their academics.
3. Can easily adopt dangerous habits – The more extreme forms of peer pressure propagate bad habits such as alcohol consumption, smoking, drug abuse. Technically, teenagers know that these are not good habits to cultivate but they excuse it with the brash confidence youth and are also motivated by the need to feel accepted. At this point of time, long term consequences don’t really occur to them.
4. Makes them feel ashamed or bad about themselves and their family – At the average school, the student body is composed of students who come from various economic backgrounds. Sometimes these economic backgrounds are vastly disparate and for many children, this becomes a bone of contention. If they come from poor economic backgrounds or come from a family which might not give them money to spend extravagantly, children end up feeling bad or ashamed about themselves and their family, because in the eyes of their peers, they are somehow ‘lesser’ or ‘weird’ individuals.
5. Distances them from family and friends – It is common for teenagers to think that nobody understands them and that the whole world is against them. However, in a few cases, the influence of peer pressure is such that it draws teenagers completely away from family and friends who mean well. They shut themselves off and fall into bad company.
6. May engage in self harm and suicide ideation – Sometimes the impact of peer pressure on teenagers is so bad that they can hardly stand to be in their own skin, are distanced from family and friends and become depressed and anxious. In such instances, teenagers could attempt self-harm or even dream of committing suicide, engage in suicidal thoughts and even ultimately engage in suicide.
Peer-pressure cannot be avoided and nor should children be wrapped in cotton wool and kept away like precious figurines. Recognize that your children are growing up, and allow them a limited amount of freedom and most important of all, always let them know that you love them.
How did you deal with growing teenagers and the effects of peer pressure? Share your opinions and suggestions with us in the comments section below!