Every day, children, adolescents, and teens may experience some form of peer pressure, which can add undue stress to an already complicated life. Although peer pressure can have both positive and negative implications and outcomes, it is most often negative. At this stage of development, an adolescent or young adult’s social group is usually the most important relationship they have outside of their home. Thus, having peers plays a huge role in how kids develop both socially and emotionally. Peer pressure often leads individuals to do something they would not normally do in an attempt to “belong.” Risky behaviors usually stem from some form of peer pressure because kids will feel left out or ridiculed when they don’t follow the crowd.
Here at Destinations for Teens, we understand the unique pressures adolescents and young adults face. Therefore, we design all of our programs to meet those needs. Whether a teen needs mental health treatment or help in overcoming substance use disorder, we can provide the resources they and their family need.
How Peer Pressure Causes Risky Behavior
According to The Adolescent Substance Abuse Knowledge Base, 30% of teens are offered drugs in middle school and high school, while the Kaiser Foundation found that 50% of teenagers feel pressured to have sex in relationships.
Peer pressure determines:
- The type of people kids choose to hang out with
- The places they frequent
- The activities they participant in
- Whether or not they will succumb and use drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana
The ages of 12 to 14 are the main years where peer pressure exerts the most influence. Additionally, during a research study, the Journal of Youth and Adolescence found that teens experienced an increase in pressure to engage in detrimental activities as they grew older. Often peer pressure at these early ages is the first exposure to drugs and alcohol for teens. Thus, it’s vital that parents, caregivers, and adults educate themselves on what kinds of substance abuse treatment is available.
Recognizing Problems Resulting from Peer Pressure
Parents should be able to recognize when their child is having issues with peer pressure. If they feel their child is in a dangerous situation, speaking to the teachers, family doctor, or principal can help.
What Parents Can Do
Once the child’s mood or behavior has significantly changed, seeking help from a mental professional is warranted. Here are a ways parents can help their child resist peer pressure:
- Keeping open communication with their child
- Staying involved with their child every day
- Teaching and maintaining rules
- Showing children how to establish healthy relationships and friendships
- Encouraging hobbies
- Having discussions about the effects of drugs and alcohol
- Teaching your child how to trust their instincts when they feel something is not right
- Coming up with a code or phrase they can use to indicate they need help
What Kids Can Do
How can kids deal with peer pressure?
- Staying away from peers who suggest doing things that are wrong
- Learning how to say no
- Avoiding situations that make them feel uncomfortable
- Getting a new group of friends that encourage positive thinking and activities
Treatment to Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle
How can treatment help peer pressure situations to support a healthy lifestyle?
Effective treatment or consultations with a mental professional can help in demonstrating negative behaviors to the child while showing them how it has influenced and harmed them. There are many treatment options that will allow the child to communicate their feelings and learn how to develop behaviors that will overcome peer pressure.
How Treatment Works
Treatment can consist of finding the patterns that trigger peer pressure, demonstrating how to look for an ally, letting them know it is okay to call for help, or in attending meetings to avoid relapses.
By utilizing effective teen mental health treatment and opening the lines of communication, children can avoid negative influences by using or building a solid foundation of self-confidence, assurance, and the feeling of power to self-direct themselves away from these types of peer pressures to achieve positive outcomes.