What is peer pressure?

Peer pressure is the phenomenon wherein we tend to get influenced by the lifestyles and the ways of thinking of our peers. The changing ways of life of our peers often force us to change our ways of looking at life and leading it. It’s a human tendency to do what the crowd does. Few have the courage to resist the peer pressure and be their own selves rather than being one among the lot.

Why do we come under peer pressure?

Some of the common reasons of children coming under peer pressure are:

  • They are afraid of being rejected by their friends.
  • They do not want to lose a good friend.
  • They want to be liked by their friends.
  • They don’t want others to make fun of them or bully them.

Positive peer pressure

If you are fortunate to get a good peer group, your friends can play a vital role in the shaping of your personality. Their way of looking at life may influence you to change for the better. Some of your close friends may not pressurize you to do things, but rather inspire you to change yourself. You may emulate their good qualities and benefit from them. Positive encouragement from them would bring about constructive changes in your personality.

Peers can have a positive influence on each other. Maybe some student in your science class taught you an easy way to remember the planets in the solar system or someone on the soccer team taught you a cool trick with the ball. You might admire a friend who is always a good sport and try to be more like him or her. Maybe you got others excited about your new favorite book, and now everyone’s reading it. These are examples of how peers positively influence each other every day.

Peer pressure

Negative peer pressure

Many a time, it so happens, that we are forced to lead a certain kind of lifestyle, adopt certain styles of fashion, clothing, hairdo, and music due to peer pressure. You may not like partying on every weekend, you may not like night outs with friends, you may hate drinking or smoking, but peer pressure may make you do all that you had never wished to. You may take to something as grave as drug use, and that too, only because of peer pressure. You may not like a certain idea or the professional field but forced to join the rat race because peers are also treading the same path. It is an extremely dangerous trend that can ruin the career of a person.

10 Ways to deal with negative peer pressure

  1. Say “No” like you mean it.

Make eye contact, then say “No” forcefully, with authority. The more certain you are in your refusal, the fewer people will bug you.

  1. Get away from the pressure zone.

Leave the scene… make your exit.

  1. Avoid stressful situations in the first place.

If you know there’s going to be alcohol or drugs at a party, make other plans.

  1. Use the buddy system.

Find a friend who shares your values and back each other up.

  1. Confront the leader of the pack.

The best way to handle a peer pressure bully is to nab him (or her) when the two of you

are alone and explain how you’re feeling and ask him/her to get off your case.

  1. Consider the results of giving in.

Take a moment to think about the consequences of your actions.

  1. Look for positive role models.

Ever notice that the really popular and successful teens at your school are the ones who

weren’t afraid to say what they like and don’t like?

  1. Don’t buy the line that everyone’s doing it.

The truth is, everyone’s NOT doing it.

  1. Evaluate your friendships.

If your friends are always bugging you to do something you’re not comfortable with, remember that true friends like you for who you are, not who they want you to be.

  1. Confide in your parents.

Whenever you feel uncomfortable under peer pressure, always take your parents advice.

Teenagers and peer pressure

Teenage is that phase of life when you are exposed to the world outside for the first time. These are the years when you spend most of your time with your friends. Every day your behavior is influenced by negative and positive approaches of others. Teenage is the phase of beginning to become independent in life; the years of forming your ideas and principles, the years that shape your personality and the years that introduce you to your own self. Adolescents often spend most of their daily time with friends, they tend to imitate their friends. When a person’s peers mock him/her or make them feel bad, this person becomes insecure. They begin to feel down and rejected. Many teenagers who give in easily to negative pressures had a difficult childhood low self-esteem, feeling of not belonging, and disturbed the state of mind.

Role of parents

Parents and teachers need to be careful while dealing with teenagers, as they are most susceptible to succumb to peer pressure during these years of their life. Teenage individuals need to be taught to distinguish between the good and the bad, the right and the wrong.

If you choose friends who don’t use drugs, cut class, smoke cigarettes or lie to their parents, then you probably won’t do these things either, even if other kids do. If you continue to face peer pressure and you’re finding it difficult to handle, discuss your problem with a parent, teacher, or school counselor.

Parents should keep the lines of communication open. You can do this by staying connected to your child. This can help make her feel more comfortable talking to you if she’s feeling swayed to do something she’s uncomfortable with. If you notice changes in your child’s mood, behavior, eating or sleeping patterns, which you think is because of her friends, it might be time to have a talk with her.

A strong support from family, an ability to differentiate between the positive and the negative and a skill to choose friends from the peers – this three-pronged strategy is the best way to keep away from negative peer pressure.