It is no secret that kids can put a lot of peer pressure on vulnerable adolescents and even young adults. It is important to know who your children’s friends are. You want to know what types of hobbies your children partake in or what they are doing at their friends’ houses. Knowing the parents of friends is imperative as well. Do they share the same morals and guidelines that you do? Are there exposed alcohol or prescription drugs that the kids could get in contact with? Do they monitor the kids while they are at their house?
You may be asking yourself why kids succumb to peer pressure, even when they know it is wrong.
- They do not want to feel unwanted by people, especially classmates
- Making friends can be challenging, they want people to like them
- They don’t want their friends to leave them
- Adolescents always want to feel more grown up, and are willing to listen to negative peer pressure to do so
- They are afraid to be seen as uncool
- They don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings by turning down an offer or suggesting that it might not be the right thing to do
- Adolescence is a time of finding yourself, but being confused at the same time – sometimes it’s easier to give into peer pressure
- They may not know how to say “no” or how to get out of a sticky situation they have gotten into
How do kids know that peer pressure works?
There is a majority of different MOs these kids use including unspoken peer pressure, and spoken peer pressure. Unspoken peer pressure involves body language, looks, and any other way to ostracize a person from the “cool” group. A good example is when a seemingly popular group of kids have the same shoes and they make it known to everyone else that does not have the same shoes that they are uncool. This might make some kids beg their parents for the shoes. Later is life those shoes might be replaced with a joint; everyone who smokes pot is cool. There are looks that kids give others relaying the message that they are cool and you are not.
Spoken peer pressure might be easier to detect, especially by parents and other adults. Everyone is afraid of rejection, even children. Rejection is a great tool used by kids to peer pressure others into doing what they want them to do; usually something bad. Some statements include:
- Nobody wants to be your friend anyway.
- If you don’t smoke pot with us, we won’t hang out anymore.
- If you don’t want to drink alcohol or do drugs with us, you can leave!
Sometimes insults are used to pressure other kids into engaging in bad behavior. By triggering emotions related to self-esteem, it makes children very vulnerable to peer pressure. Some put downs may include:
- You don’t know how to have fun
- Why are you being such a baby?
- You will never be cool like us
Using logic or reasoning are other tactics used by kids when applying peer pressure. They give reasonable or logical explanations of why their peers should try whatever it is that they are offering. Some explanations include:
- You won’t get addicted; it’s only your first try
- You won’t get in trouble; no one is going to find out
- I have used it and I am okay
- Everyone else is doing it
Parents must be aware of this and talk to children about what is going on in school and what other kids are saying to them. Education is essential to overcome peer pressure. Explain to your children the truth about drugs and alcohol. If they have a better understanding it might be easier for them to resist peer pressure. Another crucial factor in overcoming peer pressure is good self-esteem. The more confident a child is in him or herself the easier it will be to deny the crowd and not jump onto the bandwagon of drugs and alcohol regardless of how many kids are doing it.
It is okay to say “No” to negative peer pressure!!