Dealing with peer pressure in middle or high school becomes difficult because teenagers are in a malleable and tender age, where they can be easily persuaded and influenced by what they see happening around them. While positive peer pressure leads to healthy competition, growth, and development amongst teenagers, negative peer pressure can cause a host of problems that may range from lack of focus in academics to falling in the trap of unhealthy habits, like smoking or doing drugs.
How to Combat Negative Peer Pressure
According to experts, children during the age group 11 to 15 years are in a very sensitive age and even their bodies experience several hormonal changes. Not only adolescents start thinking about their individuality but they also resist any interference from parents and elders in their activities. Their ideas of liberty and freedom form the center of their life and they want to experience everything without any limitations. Peer pressure stems in many forms, for example, choosing one's clothing, wanting a piercing or tattoo, just like his/hers friends. Although, such influences are harmless and last for relatively short periods of time, there can be several negative influences. For example, sex is one area where teens face extreme pressure from their friends. Bullying and teasing an adolescent who does not have a girlfriend or is still 'virgin' is quite commonly heard in college premises. Similarly, many teens fall in the trap of smoking, consuming alcohol and taking drugs owing to peer pressure.
Befriend your kid, by sharing with them your own stories (at the right moment and right time) and teach them life values. It is better to impose healthy restrictions but don't put a ban ongoing out or other similar restrictions. Banning your kids from certain activities like meeting their friends, will have a negative impact on them, and they will try to rebel. Instead, space out their outings in such a way, that they get to socialize as well as study or pursue sports.
As parents, give your ward a curfew time, within which he/she is expected home. If by chance they get late, do not ground them, instead make them do the dishes or some extra chores as punishment. Give them their space, but also ensure that they are not misusing it. Give them one night per week to have a movie night with their friends. You can also talk to them about ill effects of smoking and alcohol, but do not lecture them. Even older siblings can be a great help in inspiring teenagers to follow good role models.
The situation worsens if parents try to put excess control on their kids. When dealing with peer pressure, parents must not panic, as it is just a part and parcel of growing up. You must stop worrying on trivial issues like coloring hair or wearing flashy clothes, as teen years is the time when children are not very matured to understand what exactly they're doing. As they grow into adults, they will gradually dress and behave in a more refined manner. Moreover, don't scrutinize each and every step of your kids, as this is the age when they're forming their own beliefs and identity. They must after all, experience and understand the truth behind right and wrong. Gradually, as they advance into adulthood, they'll become responsible. Don't think, you'll lose them or they won't understand you ever. Once they understand more about life, they will return to your ideas, values and beliefs.
While statistics related to peer pressure are certainly shocking, it is not impossible to deal with it. Generally, teenagers fall for negative influences owing to lack of self-confidence, and hence it is important for parents to inculcate good values in them.