When I think back to my teenage days, I can probably remember the feeling and the fear that everyone will think I am not cool or do not hang out with the coolest gang of my high school. That fear leads me to do a lot of stupid stuff that I might not do otherwise, from adopting a new lifestyle and clothing sense, whether it suits me or not, to deciding the future career pathway based on my friends’ preferences. It seems when I step into that teenage bubble, my parents’ approval starts mattering less, and friends’ approval starts counting more. Although it sounds weird and so reckless or rebellious to many of you, that was when only I could feel the fear of disapproval from my peers, which eventually led me to cave into peer pressure. Recently, I encountered a situation where a parent shared the routine of her kid and while hearing her take me back to my teen days as I can relate to some of the stuff that parent shared with me.
Why Does It Matter So Much, especially in 2021?
Due to the pandemic, teens are now spending more time away from their friendship circle and this anxiety pushing the need to fit in and keep connected with their peers even virtually. Researchers believe this teen’s behaviour can be the result of the mindset where their peers can reject them. Teens who struggle with low self-esteem or anxiety can easily be vulnerable to peer pressure. However, some researchers believe that peer pressure isn’t automatically bad. If a teen is hanging out with a crowd that engages in positive activities, they can be encouraged to participate in positive activities as well. Many teens find positive influences from friends who work toward long term goals in school or sports teams.
Student Peer Pressure: Myths & Realities – What Parents Should Be Aware of?
Unfortunately, the common belief by many envisages many imaginary myths related to student peer pressure. Following is the list of some well-known myths related to student peer pressure that consider as realities by today’s society. Source: ASO
MYTH 1: All peer pressure is negative. Peer pressure can be good if it pushes a person out of their comfort zone and allows them to discover new things.
MYTH 2: Bad behaviour can be excused by peer pressure. While some behaviours may be influenced by peer pressure, it’s never an excuse to misbehave or shirk responsibility.
MYTH 3: Peer pressure doesn’t get really bad until the teen years. Most people want to fit in from a very young age, leaving them open to peer pressure. It may seem more intense during the teen years because individuals are more aware of the impact their choices have.
MYTH 4: Bullying is a fact of life. It happens to everybody and is normal. Although many people may experience bullying in their lifetime, it isn’t something that should be accepted as a fact of life.
MYTH 5: Young people should learn to work through peer pressures on their own. Although young people need to learn to speak for themselves, adults must understand how to recognize positive pressures and avoid negative ones. They also have a responsibility to intervene when necessary.
MYTH 6: Peer pressure comes only from friends and peers. Peer pressure may come from other people, too, such as parents or teachers. Although they are not technically a student’s peers, they may reinforce the attitudes that result in the pressure. Media is also responsible for a great deal of peer pressure.
MYTH 7: Peer pressure impacts a person’s social life but typically does not extend to their education. Peer pressure can affect any aspect of someone’s life, including their education. People may be directly teased for being smart or earning good grades, leading to less effort or pride in their schoolwork; peer pressure in other areas may also spill over and influence educational performance.
Tips for Parents
- Talk to your student, talk to them as though they are a friend. By treating them as responsible and capable, you will help them believe they are essential and capable to handle pressure.
- Make a plan. Many kids give in to peer pressure because they don’t see a graceful way out. Help them find one by creating a plan to get them out of a bad situation with little consequence.
- Apply your own positive pressure. Their actions may seem to signal constant rebellion, but in fact, it’s natural for kids to want to please their parents.
- Give them the information they need. NEVER assume a young person knows everything they need to about risky behaviours, such as drugs, alcohol or unprotected sex.
- Set age-appropriate limits. Kids need to have a safety net, even when they are old enough to make many decisions for themselves. When they begin dating and going out with friends, set a firm curfew; when they are older, adopt the “my house, my rules” attitude, and make it clear you have expectations for them even after they go to college.
- Show confidence in your kids’ capabilities. Keeping in mind the limits of their age, give your children room to make their own decisions.
If you encounter peer pressure, don’t hold it back in your chest. Simply talk to your first available person of trust (teacher/parent/unbiased friend). The very first thing that can be affected by peer pressure is your decision-making sense. You will start feeling that no one understands you, which is simply not the case. All pressures have something to learn. Remember the very old example of nature’s peer pressure. When the carbon atoms bond together to form crystals under high pressure and temperature – a diamond will begin to form.