Typically, when we think of the effects of peer pressure on kids, we envision adolescent friends encouraging our teens to try out new substances. It comes as a shock to many parents to learn that children as young as three or four years old are already concerned with the opinions of their peers.
Even a toddler as young as two can mimic the antics of their peers and older relatives. Peer pressure is a natural part of childhood because kids naturally look up to and enjoy the company of their peers. Parents should teach their children when it’s appropriate to follow the lead of others and when to strike out on their own.
If your group of friends decided to jump off a bridge, would you follow suit? In this piece, I’ll go over some strategies you can use to keep your kid on the straight and narrow even in the face of intense pressure from their peers.
Exactly what is it that we mean when we talk about peer pressure?
When do kids feel pressured to conform? Peer pressure occurs when a person attempts to influence another person to alter their behavior, values, or beliefs so that they will be more popular in their peer group. When kids feel pressured to conform to their peers, they often disobey their parents. This often necessitates engaging in potentially harmful activities.
Negative peer pressure can manifest in other ways, even if younger children don’t engage in the typically risky behaviors we associate with it. If you start working with a kid when they’re young, they’ll be better prepared to handle peer pressure when they’re teenagers.
When young children feel pressured to conform to the norms of their peers, they may engage in the following actions:
- Carrying on in the same manner as a friend who has already been disciplined for his actions.
- Risky behavior, such as jumping from a great height, is being explored here.
- A deliberate violation of norms intended to elicit an emotional response.
- Involvement in any activity that threatens to exceed acceptable limits in either safety or acceptability.
Addressing the issue of peer pressure with your children.
It’s vital to talk to your child about peer pressure using words that are age-appropriate and in a way that he can understand. Tell him that he shouldn’t assume it’s all right to follow suit just because his pal is doing it.
When you see your young children following their peers in a way that could endanger them or go against your family’s values, it’s time to set them straight. They may feel more assured in their moral judgment as a result.
You should also inform them of the logical results that come from choosing to follow peers rather than adults. For instance, even if they see a friend crossing the street unsupervised, they know it’s not a good idea to do so themselves. Instilling your child the confidence to stand firm against peer pressure is crucial.
Children between 7 and 10 are at an appropriate developmental stage to receive more truthful information about the potential outcomes of imitating their peers. Instruct them that the risky behaviors they engage in now may lead to even more severe consequences as they mature.
It’s OK to be more honest with them as they get older; make sure you’re not scaring them or using overly dramatic examples. Your child will feel more supported and confident in coming to you about his concerns about the peer pressure he will face if you emphasize the importance of natural consequences. Get the small stuff out of the way so you have a solid foundation when the big stuff hits.
Keeping an eye on your tween or teen’s emotions, actions, and circle of friends is important because they may need to open up to you about problems they’re having with their peers. Maintaining open communication channels will encourage them to confide in you during trying times. The importance of getting a head start must be balanced. Remind them that it’s normal to feel pressure from their peers but that there are always consequences to their actions, some of which can be quite severe.
Parents can better equip their children to handle peer pressure when they have regular and open conversations about it with them from a young age. Initiating this process at a young age will allow you to better assist your children in recognizing and avoiding potentially dangerous situations as they grow.
It’s a chance to assist them in considering all of their options. Being a good example and encouraging your children when they make wise choices are great ways to combat the adverse effects of peer pressure.
Assist young people in dealing with the effects of peer pressure.
The best weapons we can give our children against the influence of their peers are a strong sense of self and the ability to rely on themselves. Children with a solid self-esteem foundation are more likely to prioritize their individual wants and needs over those of their peers.
How, then, can we help our children develop a sense of self-worth and confidence? The lens through which we view our children becomes the lens through which they view themselves. The tone of our own voices has a significant impact on our children, and they may internalize some of our words and phrases.
If we frequently express irritation and frustration in front of our children, they will internalize these feelings and project them onto themselves. No mother or father wants their offspring to grow up with a negative self-image.
Our children will internalize our attitudes toward them, so it’s important always to hold them in the highest regard. They will hear this voice inside their heads if we treat them with kindness and compassion. Children’s self-esteem and confidence can be greatly boosted when their parents express their faith in them. Showing our confidence in them encourages them to develop their own.
What makes it so crucial?
We can’t possibly keep our kids in our constant company. Because of this, the tasks we perform at home are crucial. We’re helping them build a strong sense of security, autonomy, and self-worth. Young children may not face the same dangers from peer pressure as adolescents, but preparing them now will help them cope better when they face more serious difficulties later.
When our children say “no,” the inner voice we cultivate in them is the voice they project into the world. The tenacity we give our kids will be the foundation they grow up to stand on. Young children will benefit greatly from understanding peer pressure, being guided through difficult situations, having their self-confidence bolstered, and having clear boundaries established for them.
The Role of Peer Pressure in Bullying
Every day, teenagers are shaped by their peers’ behavior. To put it another way, your adolescent is being shaped by the influences of their friends at all times. Even if they don’t realize it, spending time together teaches them valuable lessons they might not have learned otherwise.
There are occasions when peer pressure can be beneficial in the form of encouraging one another to attempt new things or constructively challenge oneself. Peer pressure can be harmful when it comes to drug and alcohol abuse and even bullying.
Peer Pressure Is the First Step in Bullying
It is a sort of bullying in which a group or clique’s members pressure one another to conform to the group’s norms and values. Cliques of kids might put pressure on one another to engage in bullying behavior.
Bullying happens in many forms, ranging from the simple act of writing hurtful notes or calling someone names to the more complex act of spreading rumors and gossip about another person. In reality, peer pressure is a major factor in many forms of relational aggression and cyberbullying.
Teens and tweens, on the other hand, may feel compelled to emulate the behavior of their older counterparts. Because they believe their peers are doing it, some children engage in sexting. Youngsters are influenced by their peers to do things they wouldn’t normally do in order to be accepted or gain attention.
The pack mentality is especially prevalent online when it comes to bullying and puts pressure on people to bully others. In many cases, children will urge or press others to engage in cyberbullying. Online hate lists and cruel social media posts are just two examples of this.
The Reasons Behind Children’s Submission to Peer Pressure
In most cases, children succumb to peer pressure in order to be liked or accepted by their peers. They are afraid that other kids would make fun of them if they don’t fit in with the group or clique. In the end, bullying can be a self-defense mechanism.
As a result, kids are concerned they will be bullied if they don’t participate in rumors and gossip, disseminate false stories, or mock others.
Another problem is that when bullying is done in a group, some adolescents believe that it is less of a crime because “everyone is doing it.” It’s not uncommon for kids to abandon their better judgment and common sense when they’re in a group like this. As a result, individuals don’t feel nearly as bad about their actions as they otherwise would have.
Children’s Peer Pressure: Help Them Manage It
It’s not uncommon for parents to feel like they’re fighting a lost battle against the influence of their kids’ peers. Parents, on the other hand, wield far more power than people know. Teens and tweens may be seeking to show their independence, but they still rely on their parents for support and guidance. Because of this, don’t miss the chance to get involved.
Engage in conversation with your children. Try to empathize with their situation. Do they feel compelled by their peers to engage in acts of relational assault or cyberbullying?
It’s easier to make a good impact on bullying if you can connect with your children on the subject. Ensure that your children are well-versed in dealing with pressure from their peers. In addition, make sure they have strong self-confidence, assertiveness, and social skills. These characteristics help children respond positively to the influence of their peers.
When it comes to bullying, set clear guidelines and hold people accountable for breaking them.
If you have a policy against bullying others and you discover that your child is bullying others, you must take disciplinary action, even if he was persuaded to do so. Don’t let your youngster think that the rules don’t apply or aren’t a big thing if you don’t enforce them.
There’s a risk that it will spiral into something more dangerous, such as an attack on another person’s health or even death. Don’t forget that ignoring your child’s pleas can only do more harm in the long run.
Recognize that despite your best efforts, your adolescent will make mistakes. Instead of yelling or scolding, encourage them to accept responsibility for their behavior. Have them apologize if they were nasty to someone else, for example.
Have them clean the locker if they’ve written something degrading on it. The goal is to ensure that the bullies make up for their actions.
Avoid labeling your youngster a bully, as well. As a substitute, admonish him to put an end to his bullying behavior and instead cultivate traits such as empathy, kindness, and respect. While it may take some time, your child can learn how to make better decisions despite social pressure.
How Peer Counseling Benefits Teens
Meeting the emotional needs of teenagers can be difficult for parents. Teens worry that their parents don’t recognize the difficulties they’re facing. Or, if they are guilty of wrongdoing, they can be afraid that a talk will end in punishment. This is why parents want peer support programs.
A peer support program is a type of counseling in which an older student meets with a younger student to provide support and advice on how to handle difficult situations.
A study found that students who participated in peer support programs were better able to listen to their peers and recognize the early indicators of suicide and other mental health problems. Students take on leadership and mentoring roles with help from faculty, counselors, and mental health experts.
Views of Parents on Peer Counseling
Mott surveyed families to gauge their thoughts on these types of teen-run organizations. According to the survey, the majority of parents (72%) think the program might be beneficial since it would teach their children to talk to their peers instead of adults. Seventy-six percent of respondents believed that other students would have a better grasp of their teenagers’ struggles than teachers and administrators.
Although many parents would like for their child to take part in peer support programs, many are unsure that their child will. Only 38% of parents believed their child was very likely to initiate conversation with a peer, while 41% said it was possible, and 21% said it was extremely unlikely.
Some parents are apprehensive because they don’t think it’s possible to train a teenager to listen (47%), others are worried about confidentiality (62%), and 57% are concerned that a peer wouldn’t know when to involve an adult in a crisis.
Parents’ encouragement of their children’s leadership roles among their peers was also investigated. The vast majority of parents polled said they would be okay with it. However, some expressed apprehension about whether their child would be ready for the responsibility, receive sufficient training, or hold themselves accountable if anything went wrong.
Teens Should Communicate
One in five adolescents experience symptoms of a diagnosable mental health disorder, making suicide the second largest cause of death among this age group. The suicide incidence among 14–19-year-olds has climbed from 6 to 9.7 per 100,000 in recent years, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in their 2019 report. It’s worth noting that 95,000 kids in 2018 were treated in hospitals because of intentional self-injury.
Rates that compare and contrast the results of Mott’s survey. According to the results of their survey, 40% of parents who participated were unable to determine if their children were depressed or simply going through normal mood swings, and 30% reported that their children were skilled at concealing their emotions. And one has to ask if the number would be larger if there were more opportunities for peer support communication.
The ability of some parents to recognize signs of depression in their children may be exaggerated. The findings suggest that parents who place too much stock on their own abilities can miss warning indications that their children are struggling.
Professionals in the field of mental health generally support peer support groups.
At this point in their education, middle school pupils are increasingly looking to their classmates for validation and acceptance. For that reason, these initiatives are crucial. Older students who have been at the school for at least a year can be a great resource for younger students in many ways, including providing emotional, academic, and vocational guidance. Programs like these help students develop transferable abilities that will help them succeed in any field.
The way teenagers dress and do their hair, as well as the poor choices they make, are influenced by their peers. Positive peer pressure is demonstrated by peer support groups. Students, especially the younger ones, may benefit from learning the art of asking for help from a role model.
There are many cases where professors do not look like the majority of students, especially in metropolitan areas, and where peer counselors are a better reflection of the kids than staff. A general atmosphere of mistrust may result, although the more experienced classmates can assist smoothly.
A Helping Hand for Each Other
The older pupils benefit as well by gaining insight into the importance of responsibility, empathy, and leadership. The improvement in their ability to communicate is an additional benefit.
The leaders develop skills in multi-party discourse. The peer is speaking to the program’s adults on their behalf and, in certain cases, on behalf of their younger peers. They are speaking to their peers on an equal footing, and even speaking for the adults at times. Since this is a trait valued in leadership roles and learning to advocate for oneself, this is of essential importance.
While increasing the overall mental health of a school’s student body is certainly an important short-term goal of peer support programs, there are also important long-term benefits that should encourage their wider implementation.
The only potential problems with peer support programs are mismatches between students and a failure to notice warning indications of emotional or behavioral problems. However, if adults supervise and talk with the student counselors, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Many educational institutions have adopted such programs to identify and prevent student mental health suffering and subsequent suicidal ideation. They understand the influence that leaders among their peers can have.
In the absence of a formal peer support program, it is critical that you communicate with your child and educate yourself on the indicators of mental illness in children.