In today’s world a typical teenager’s desire is to be accepted by their fellow peers as they tend to spend more time with them rather than with their own family. This pre-adulthood generation is called Generation Z and study has shown that teenagers of today are manipulated by peer pressure in every way imaginable.
The stereotypical pressure can be abusing alcohol while still being underage. As well as the idea of smoking as their fellow “peers” also do it. However if it exceeds beyond this, it can reach to a deadly consequence of drug abuse and overdose. If it’s so dangerous then why do teenagers fall in this trap?
It’s necessary to understand that peer influence and pressure is a normal phase that adolescence goes through. On the search of their own independence and identify they may be negatively impacting their life along the way. Such impacts can last a lifetime and leave them scarred for life. Such influences can result in:
- Losing self- confidence and belief: Peers can change the belief of a self- confident child and mock him for his ideals. This results in the child having a low esteem.
- Creates distance from family: It’s an age where a typical teenager feels no one understands them and the world is out there to get them. They may refuse the help of family and close friends in this complicated and misunderstood phase and fall in bad company.
- Self- harm: As teenagers feel that they are isolated from rest of the world, they do not seek help from family and friends and become depressed and anxious.
Similarly, teenagers feel forced to lead a certain kind of lifestyle in order to fit in. Your child may not be a party person; but because of the average teenager mob mentality, they do it for acceptance and reassurance that yes, they fit in.
Peer pressure does not mean it only brings out the bad side in your child like smoking, drinking etc. It can also mean how your friends can affect your attitude and everyday decisions that you make, be it about the kind of food you want to have or the kind of exercise you want to do.
Peer pressure not only affects a child’s life physically but also emotionally. Young girls and boys decide to be sexually active as everyone they know is doing as well. Many times girls are pressurized into getting physical as a way of proving their love. This can result in two ways, either getting pregnant or contracting some kind of STD’s. Both of this can result in extreme emotional distress. This can further invite depression or at a lost cause, suicide.
But in many aspects peer pressure isn’t considered a big deal and is overshadowed. It is a global problem and the adults should find a way to deal with it. It is very dangerous as it can destroy a child’s well being and sometimes even results in death. We must do something before it is too late!
When does peer pressure exactly begin?
Peer pressure starts when children begin to care about what other children may think about them. This influence can be seen in very early grade school years. One group of “cool kids” may influence other group to be like them as well. It’s a bad influence as often times such kids are trouble makers and having behavioral issues.
Such kids pressure you into doing uncomfortable things, such as shoplifting, taking dangerous risks when driving a car or having sex before you feel ready. They gradually become convinced that those activities are acceptable. They start thinking, “It’s OK, everyone else is also doing it.”
Kids with low self-confidence tend to follow the crowd more. Negative influences can be everywhere and it may be hard to resist them, but once you learn to say no, it’s a good feeling that you get afterwards.
The first step about parenting a teenager is to investigate as to who they socialize with at school. As a parent, we should be to help our child develop their own individuality and keep in track that they do not follow the blindly crowd like a sheep.
You should be concerned about your child if he/she shows the following signs:
- Your child is acting out of character.
- Your child seems to be copying the “cool kids” of the school.
- Your child constantly worried about not fitting in with friends.
- Your child fights with you about not letting them have these experiences and feels he/she is “missing out.”
Research shows that children who have good relations with their parents have less of a need to please their friends. Parents can always read the signs and help their child in any way they can. You can talk with them about their insecurities and encourage them to find a solution to destroy this built up insecurities. Parents should be a good listener to their child and try to understand their point of view of things and come up with calm solutions avoiding relentless arguments.