We all remember the first time we stepped into high school. High school is a nightmare for everyone. You are ridiculed for your dull dressing sense, your messed up hairdo, and your geeky spectacles. And you get sick and tired of kids laughing behind your backs, and looking at you, as if you have walked out straight from another planet. You get sick of having lunch alone, and leading a non-existent profile in high-school, until one day you decide it is time to join the bandwagon. So, you start dressing up like the Barbie dolls and hunks in your class, even pick up a few make up tips from them. You start listening to the same music that everyone is listening to. You go to the places that everyone is frequenting, and even though you hate it, you try to gulp down a glass of beer at every weekend party that you attend. Soon you become what your peers wanted you to be - one of the lot.
We've heard about it, experienced it, advised the children about it and yet, a majority of kids continue to struggle with it through years of schooling, and perhaps even later. Peer pressure is inevitable, since there always exists one 'cool group' at school - which basically includes a bunch of kids who do all the things that they are not supposed to do, and make it seem like a 'cool' or 'happening' thing to do. Children, who are too sincere at studies, have often been at the receiving end of ridicule, and a lot of meaningless bashing by the bullies at school. Indulging in unsafe sexual practices, alcohol, drug abuse, eating disorders, and smoking are some of the activities that are a part of the peer pressure phenomenon.
Often, you find teenage children indulging in unprotected sex with multiple partners just because they think everyone is doing it and hence it is 'cool'. The parameters of good and bad have been replaced by 'what's in' and 'what's out'. Peer pressure is nothing but the incessant desire of the children to be perceived as 'happening' and 'cool' in order to belong to a particular group. Often, at schools and colleges, the students form groups, and there is a lot of group politics and bullying that they are subjected to.
For parents who want to guide their children on dealing with peer pressure, the answer lies in simple and effective parenting. Always tell your children that they are unique individuals, and do not have to emulate their peers to feel accepted. This is something that children deal from the early schooling years, and can even continue facing the problem during adulthood. Although the severity of such pressure might not seem very grave in every situation, never take any sort of peer pressure lightly. No matter what form it comes in, this kind of influence erodes the individuality of the child and retards personal growth.
Peer pressure kills individuality and gives rise to a set of people who are merely clones of each other. Often what people don't realize is that, although there exists the garb of a similar fashion or a similar trend that masks these clones, the actual faces behind these facades are unique. Loss of individuality can be the biggest setback anyone can suffer in their childhood. It is very important for children to realize that it is never about fitting in a set mold of characters and skills, it is about being a part of the group, and yet retaining your individuality - be it your clothes, your friends, or your thoughts.
Be it school, college, or workplace - making friends is important, and so is socializing, but there are ways to forge new ties and mix up with people without being pressurized by the peers. Friends never make you lose your identity, making friends is about appreciating the differences, respecting individual tastes, and still being together. So, remember that if someone asks you to change yourself and be like them in order to be accepted - you are better off without them. Be comfortable with who you are, and you will soon make new friends and be accepted by everyone. The effects of peer pressure can be prevented by simply teaching your child to be confident and comfortable in their own skin, without giving in to such social influences.