Handling peer pressure is challenging for anyone, as we all strive to fit in with our friends, family, or co-workers. We’d all like to be well thought of, and sometimes this means that we have to adjust to performative actions. These actions can be using a turn signal on a roadway, smiling at a neighbor, or making sure that we call family members to check on their well-being. Some of these actions are more enjoyable than others, but they are necessary.
As teens learn to fit in with society, they will hopefully follow this pattern of behaviour. They will complete homework, attend club meetings, or put in time at their after-school job. However, sometimes teens may find that it is difficult to balance their friends’ expectations and obligations simultaneously. Wanting to fit in can lead to behaviours that may be unexpected, challenging, or even dangerous if a teen is not careful in their decision-making and turns to drug use or alcohol use. At Venture Academy, we provide compassionate care that guides teens away from negative peer pressure and towards positive outlets.
What Is Peer Pressure?
Peer pressure is simply when a person’s choices or behaviours are swayed by their peer group. Not all peer pressure is detrimental, and there are many different types of peer pressure. Consider:
- Positive peer pressure can help us to fit into our peer groups in the best ways. These behaviours can drive us out of our comfort zone to grow and succeed. This can be when a teen joins a club or team or puts in extra effort to win a prize. This is formative peer pressure that helps us in our daily lives.
- Negative peer pressure, however, can be very damaging. This is the peer pressure to take part in risky activities or delinquency. Some examples are when teens engage in drug or alcohol use, ride in a car with a drunk driver, or gossip in ways that damage others. These too can be learning tools, but when they become too dangerous, it is important to know how to seek help for a teen.
- Direct peer pressure is when there is a straightforward expression that includes ostracising consequences. We often see examples of this type of peer pressure on television shows, as it offers a dramatic threat. When a peer holds a beer out to their friend and insults them until they drink, this is direct peer pressure. This kind of pressure can be exceedingly tough for a teen to avoid and often leads to trouble with the law for alcohol use.
- Indirect peer pressure can often be unspoken. This is harder to define because it is based on assumed consequences. Without clear boundaries, sexual encounters can become peer pressure situations. Anytime communication is concealed, there is a chance for trouble. The consequences for this can be catastrophic, leading to teen pregnancy, sexual assault, and delinquency.
Tools to Fight Negative Peer Pressure
As a parent, you are surely wondering what some tools are that you can teach your teen that will help them stay strong when faced with peer pressure. Of course, you want to ensure that they will make the right decision for positive reasons. The truth is, we all make mistakes, but it is best to talk to your teen about the types of peer pressure and support them in their decisions. A few strategies that may help include:
- Teach your children how to have healthy boundaries. This can start with something as simple as giving them power in their own space. Have a three-knock policy before entering their living space. For very young children, teach them that they have control over their bodies and don’t have to hug any relatives if they don’t want to. Allowing them the opportunity to say no will help them have the insight to understand their discomfort and the strength and vocabulary to say no.
- There is nobody that is liked by everybody. That is an unreasonable expectation for anyone to have. Being liked is not more important than personal comfort.
- If your teen goes to a party, encourage them to go with friends that you trust. Friends with good values will stand up for one another. This means that no one person will be pressured, and it is much easier to fight peer pressure when you have someone who will stick up for you.
- Let your teen know that it is okay to make up a white lie and fill it with the truth if they become uncomfortable but do not feel they can say no in a social situation. This can be as simple as saying: “I cannot drink because it does not mix well with the medication I am taking.” or “I have an early morning obligation.”
If your teen regularly spends time with friends who pressure them to participate in activities they are uncomfortable with, they may take part in an unhealthy cycle.
Your Teen Can Resist Peer Pressure with Our Help
If it feels too difficult to pull away from friends who are pressuring your teen into changing their values, encourage them to speak with a counsellor, a teacher, or a pastor. Let them know they are not alone, and they can get help with making healthier decisions.
With Venture Academy’s 30-day assessment, intervention program, and behaviour treatment, your teen can get support with learning tools that will help them to grow with positive results. If you are still feeling unsure, consider taking our interactive child behaviour test 855.281.5813. It only takes about five minutes of your time and may help you have this hard conversation with your teen.