Coping With Peer Pressure
Peer pressure can be a source of great difficulty in a teenís life. Parents find it baffling, powerful and even fearful at times. How can an influence outside the solid foundation of their home exert so much change?
Providing a secure and stable environment for healthy psychological development often would seem to provide the basis for a teenagerís ability to withstand negative peer pressure.
With all these elements in place, the baffling part is that the hard work and sacrifice of the parent many times become less important to the child than the opinions of his peers.
Exactly why adolescents give in to peer pressure is a complex and intricate matter. But if adults will think back to the time of their own adolescence and remember how important it was to be accepted by the group, they will agree that acceptance was more important at that time than at any other time in their lifes. Fear of exclusion by the peer group was frightening.
Being liked and accepted by friends is so important that depression, anxiety and other emotional difficulties can result if the child feels rejected.
Parents would like to help direct the adolescent along the least stormy path, but they often feel powerless in the face of the teenís desire to conform to the standards of friends.
As part of the developmental process in making the transition from childhood to adulthood, the adolescent may seem to reject many of the values learned earlier in life. This sometimes troublesome, but not unusual, behavior can be difficult for the concerned parent to accept.
When most of the reference points that determine a teenís behavior seem to come from peers, the tendency of the parent often is to feel hurt or angry.
This, of course, can lead to panic and sometimes irrational and overly rigid rules.
When this happens, a breakdown in communication between teen and parent can occur, threatening the network that formerly held the family together.
The important thing is to keep the lines of communication open and be a good listener. Help your teen understand that his or her choice of friends is important in dealing with social pressure.
Emphasize how the teenís decisions and the consequences of these decisions affect his future.
By fostering positive feelings and providing support, you can help your teen withstand peer pressure and maintain the family value system.
Harold H. LeCrone, Jr., Ph.D. Copyright © 2012