Peer pressure is not bad thing. We all are influenced by our peers, both negatively and positively. It helps define who we are and how we feel about subjects in our lives. It is how we chose to react to peer pressure that defines who we are as an individual. Are we a leader or a follower? Both types of people are needed to make the world go around. ‘A healthy part of every child’s development is involvement with their peers.
This is especially true during adolescence as teenagers develop a sense of independence from their parents.’ — by Bruce A. Epstein, M.D, in The Importance of Peer Pressure!
As our children grow our influence on certain subjects diminishes – and the influence of peers gains ground. The trick here is to control who the peers are. If your child is ‘hanging out’ with a group of teens that is into sports, and then he meets someone who is into drugs, his opinion of the teen that is into drugs is going to be “He’s stupid!” Why? Mostly, because that is the opinion of the teens who are the closest to him.
The problem is that the reverse is also true.
The difference between negative and positive peer pressure is the outcome. The reverse of the situation above is negative peer pressure. The situation itself is positive peer pressure. Or is it? What if your teen really doesn’t like sports, but pushes himself to do it to please his friends or to be accepted? Therefore, he probably doesn’t do too well at it, and gets only jabs at his self esteem from the very friends he is trying so hard to impress. That is another form of negative peer pressure.
Peer pressure is a normal aspect in our teens lives, as well as our own. As a parent, we need to pick and choose our battles. For example, just because we don’t like the current teen fashion does not mean that we have to fight it. When everyone at school is wearing jeans that are five times too big for them, and your teen wants to also, you can cut him some slack. But, if everyone is wearing these jeans down around their knees, you have a battle.