The term peer pressure has come to be largely regarded as a negative influence from which you need to protect your teen. And not without reason. Peer pressure can take an ugly form when teens are coaxed to abandon their values and sense of identity, and indulge in acts that can harm them or are detrimental to their overall development.
It is this kind of peer pressure that you need to guard your teen against. Here are some ways in which you can do that:
1. Build good parent–teen relationships
The notion that parent–teen relationships are almost always based on a rocky foundation is not true. A study titled ‘Friendships, Peer Influence, and Peer Pressure During the Teen Years’ by Maria R.T. de Guzman, published by University of Nebraska - Lincoln Extension, throws light on parent–teen relationship. It says that during the teenage years, the relationship between parents and their teens is renegotiated and not rejected. The study further points out that parents still exercise more influence on the lives of their teens than their peers do. Your child’s adolescent years could therefore be a great opportunity for you to build a healthy relationship based on trust and respect. Strengthened bonds at home create the basis for better relationships with friends within healthy boundaries.
2. Emphasise on developing individuality
While a network of friends can have many positive influences on your teen, peer pressure becomes a cause of concern when it makes her lose her sense of identity. The need to ‘belong’, and therefore conform to the wishes of a peer group can be difficult to withstand if your teen doesn’t have strong values. It can get particularly tough when it is one against many. To defend against this, you need to create a strong foundation of personal and family values on which your teen can base her self-identity. While it is alright for her to cooperate with others in her group, it is important that she learns to hold out against coercion in any form. You can help your teen develop her individuality by encouraging her to focus on her long-term goals.
3. Get to know your teen’s friends
Even if your teen is close to you, his friends will always be an important part of his life. So, an important step in helping your teen manage peer pressure is to get to know his friends. At the very beginning, ensure that your teen is with the right group and their values and habits are not in contrast to those of yours. Invite your teen’s friends home whenever possible. By watching his friends closely and their interactions, you will be able to determine the extent of his friends’ influence and also whether the group has a positive or negative effect on him. It will also help you understand his interests and temperament, which will always come in handy if you need to advise your teen at any point.
Teenage years are the most impressionable period of your child’s life. So, make sure that she is well-equipped to deal with any negative influences she may encounter, especially from her peers.