Peer Pressure: A Definition
Your peers are mainly your friends who are around your age. You grow up with them, and they influence most decisions that you make. Usually those people have similar interests as you. Your peers can be at school, neighborhood, sports teams, etc.
Peer pressure is when your peer group members influence you or try making you to make certain decisions in life. It’s important to note that this can be good or bad. Good peer pressure helps motivate you to be a better person!
Examples of Peer Pressure (“Good” & “Bad”)
Positive examples are:
Feedback & Advice: when you aren’t sure what to decide, your peers give you their point of view and advice.
Socializing: peers have a big influence on your social skills. You will find peers you get along with, you compete with, adorable peers or peers you don’t want to be like. And that’s totally normal.
Encouragement: encouraging peers are definitely the ones you want to be around. It can be demonstrated when they help you study, listen to you, or support you when trying out for a sport.
New Experiences: trying new things isn’t easy, so that’s when your peers come in and get you to try sushi for the first time or listen to their favorite artist whom you haven’t heard.
Negative peer pressure DOES exist, for example:
Use of drugs, cigarettes and alcohol.
Sneaking out and doing things without parent’s permission.
Having sex before feeling ready.
Right now, many teens are dealing with conflicting emotions over how to act during Covid-19. (As if “regular” peer pressure wasn’t enough).
What we’ve seen are teens not wearing masks, not social distancing, and hanging out in groups. The best thing you can do as a parent is be a good role model. Make sure you are taking every step of precaution that you are asking of them.
If you tell your kids they can’t hang out with their friends but then you are having happy hours with your neighbors all sitting around on your front porch not 6 feet away…what message is that sending? Or you all gather for a game of soccer or softball with the entire family…what is that saying? Remember, your kids do what you do, they repeat what you say, and they are smarter than you think!
How To Deal With Peer Pressure During COVID
The first tip to confronting the stress of peer pressure is listening to your gut. Only do what makes you feel comfortable. It doesn’t matter if everyone else is OK with it. You are the owner and boss of your mind/decisions.
Planning ahead for pressured situations is a good idea. It’s okay to rehearse and practice what you’ll say or do in case you get asked to try something you don’t want to. For example, you’re going to a party so you decide to hold a cup with soda or water to have less of a chance of being offered anything else.
This is when backup plans come in too. If the pressure is too much, you can always plan a way to ‘bail-out’. For example, calling your parents to come get you because of a bad headache.
Speaking of parents, put the blame on them. ‘My parents will kill me’ and ‘they literally have spies everywhere’ are some of the best ones.
Surround yourself with people who understand and feel the way you do. It becomes easier to have someone who thinks alike when you’re getting pressured into something dangerous. That person and you can stand up for each other.
When situations seem too dangerous for you to handle on your own, don’t hesitate to get help from an adult.
If you are noticing peer pressure in someone you know, here are some of the top most common reasons why. Peer pressure is caused by the desire to ‘fit in’, avoiding rejection, gaining social acceptance, hormonal inconsistencies, personal/social confusion, anxiety, or a lack of structure at home. Although parents think being strict with their kids will keep them away from all of this, it won’t stop them from it. Peer pressure is part of life and that’s how we learn and become more responsible.
That isn’t an excuse for teenagers to be okay with things they do for peer pressure. That’s why, if you notice your teen going through things that are making negative impact, talk with them. Try to understand them and if necessary, sign them up for counseling. Sometimes they’ll feel ashamed with sharing things with parents. It’s best to become an excellent listener so that your kids come to you when they are facing a predicament. I am also more than glad to listen to adolescents and help them become better at handling peer pressure.
About Peek Counseling | Teen Therapist in Denver, CO
Katie Bisbee-Peek, LPC is a teen counselor in Denver, Colorado. Katie has a way of weaving in humor and a genuine care for her clients in her practice, Peek Counseling. She has seen families come back together after working on issues through counseling. When everyone in the family is heard, they can heal. Katie’s door is always open. Just click here to get started.