As children grow up friendships become an important aspect of their lives. Along with developing unique personalities and traits they also develop the need to be more independent and have the freedom to choose their friends. Adolescence is a volatile age. During pre-teen and teen years the opinion of our friends starts to outweigh the opinion of our own parents. That is when we peer pressure starts to really do its damage. High school can be a confusing time and that is where peer pressure among teenagers is most prevalent. Friends that you trust and hang out with all day in school and after can be a major source of peer pressure causing us to try out things like smoking or drugs to remain “cool” which we would not otherwise. On the other hand, however, studies suggest that peer pressure can also play a vital role in shaping a teen’s personality and can provide them with the necessary motivation to work hard and achieve their goals.
Where peer pressure goes wrong
There is no denying the fact that friends and peer pressure go hand in hand. As compared to childhood; friendships formed during adolescence, especially in school, tend to be more profound and stable. Teens spend a good chunk of their time in schools during which they are directly under the influence of their friends. The pressure exerted by our friends to smoke or do drugs because “everyone is doing it” can lead us to do things unwillingly. The strain to follow the pack can have disastrous consequences on a teen’s life. Not only does this cause their grades to fall but also hurts their chances of getting into a good college upon graduation. Parents can counter this by encouraging kids to hang out with kids who share their values and have common sense. Your teen can only get into trouble with peer pressure if his/her peers are the wrong kind of kids.
The bright side of peer pressure
Contrary to popular belief peer pressure doesn’t just have a negative effect on an individual but in certain situations can teach one the value of hard work and discipline. Consider a classroom scenario where a student is struggling with Math while his best friend, on the other hand, is acing tests and winning accolades from his teachers. Frequently witnessing his friend excel at Math will indirectly put pressure on the student to put in extra work in order to compete with his friend. Similarly if a teenager sees his friend giving it his 100% at the school football team tryouts then he will feel pressured to do the same to make the squad with his best friend. In such scenarios peer pressure works like inspiration and can provide an individual with the necessary motivation to realize their goals and work hard towards achieving them.
Peer pressure if steered in a positive direction can move mountains for teens. It is important for parents to realize that they can use it as a tool instead of pulling and pushing their teens into rebellion.