Every teenager is influenced by his or her peers, even if they don't realise. Peers learn from each other just by spending time together. It's human nature to listen to and also learn from other people in one`s age group.
Peers can have positive influence on each other:
- By admiring a friend who is, for example, good in sports, young people will try to be more like him or her.
- Someone might get excited about a book and motivates other young people to read
But peers can influence each other in negative ways:
- Being mean to others might start bullying in school
- Someone might dare his friends to do something silly or dangerous
- Smoking or taking drugs because you friends do it might lead to live long addiction.
Peer pressure can influence:
- the way someone dresses
- the activities they get involved in
- the music teenagers listen to
- decisions about using drugs and alcohol
- who they’re friends with.
Peer pressure can be:
- direct: someone telling others what they should be doing
- indirect: a group of friends might do certain activities together that they’re unlikely to do outside of that group
- self-motivated: putting pressure on individuals to fit in with friendship groups, because of certain standards set or comments made by others.
How to cope with peer pressure
- Think about why friends had such a strong influence on actions. Was this a way to gain self-confidence?
- Reflect on whether friends are having a negative impact.
- Aim to develop a stronger sense of own values.
- Spend time with supportive mates and family.
- See a health professional to learn ways of developing a positive body image.
- Remember that no one should be pressured to change the way a body looks; have confidence in your own body is the only thing that matters!
- Pursue your own interests
- Hang out with people who like doing the same stuff.
- Say ‘no’
- If you can calmly explain why something‘s not for you, you’ll gain respect.
- Don’t judge
- Respecting someone else’s choice may help them respect yours.
- Friends don’t have to agree on everything
- Understanding that everyone has their own opinion means you can chill out and feel less defensive.
A book recommended from our Librarian Anne Rue:
Peer pressure and group behavior can cause various problems. Perhaps you want to be in a group and they are excluding you. Maybe you are in a group and are worried because they are making you do things you don't want to do. Perhaps you aren't in the group but you can see them treating someone else badly. In this book you'll find advice and positive strategies to help you through these tough situations.