Parenting

How to help children deal with peer pressure

kids peer pressure

Peers play an essential role in the emotional and the social development of children and adolescents. Peer influence can be very strong and impact children during adolescence. Peer pressure can cause them to behave and act in ways that are accepted and appreciated by their friends. Young people who cannot cope can succumb to negative emotions, the impact of which can sometimes last a lifetime. During this National Mental Health Awareness Month, it is relevant to discuss how peer pressure can affect mental health.

The reasons for peer pressure

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We have to understand why we feel peer pressure in the first place. The simplest answer is that each of us wants to fit in and be accepted by our peers. This is especially true for children. Some external and internal factors that can affect the pair behaviour and the choice may include, but is not limited to, age groups, common beliefs or interests, common issues, community, friends at school or college, and location.

The friends we make with one or more of the above criteria can have positive or negative influences. Positive peer influences can refer to peers who inspire positive outcomes, provide moral support, motivate us to do well in life, stimulate interest in reading, or extra-curricular activitiesalways teach us something new, speak up against bullies, and most importantly, respect our boundaries.n

On the other hand, if one feels weak in trust, this is likely a sign of negative peer influence. This form of peer pressure can include ridiculing someone’s choices or values, forcing them to do things against their principles, leading to bad habits or even unpleasant acts like stealing, cheating , indulging in alcohol and drugs, skipping class, using the internet for inappropriate activities. , or other risky behaviors.

How Peer Pressure Affects Young People

The school performance of a young person, educational choices and career (one may leave the career of one’s dreams and pursue what one’s friends are doing), concentration levels, and overall personality and behavior may change due to peer pressure. These are anything but a cumulative effect of negative effects peer influence.

According to developmental theorist Erik Erikson, “When there is similarity between peers, it gives us a sense of security”, which causes the crisis of identity confusion. Teenagers change their thought patterns, speech, dress, behavior, and other choices based on those of their friends. Instead of cherishing their individuality, they try to be someone else. They don’t understand that everyone is unique and trying to emulate someone else can show low self-esteem.

Parents and children should keep the following tips in mind to combat peer pressure:

Recognize unhealthy dynamics: Parents need to know their children’s friends, whether regular or online. Children social media engagement must be monitored. If the child or teenage girl shows unusual behavior or avoids eye contact, it’s time for parents to intervene. Children should learn self-control before self-confidence! In addition, children who lack self-confidence can fall prey to peer pressure, so teachers should play a key role in building a child’s level of confidence and assessing their friendships. Use the buddy system, if necessary.

  • It’s good to find an excuse: It is best to stay away from peers who encourage dangerous behavior. Instead, it’s wiser to spend time with children who resist peer pressure or refuse to engage in unwanted activities.

  • Avoid the situation: Find friends who respect each other’s boundaries. It’s good to stay away from friends who are a bad influence.

  • Either firm: Knowing how to say “no” when something is inappropriate, or when it seems uncomfortable or dangerous. Talking about it with a trusted adult, such as a parent, teacher, or school counselor, can be helpful. Encourage openness and honesty Communication is therefore imperative. This way kids will be comfortable talking and saying how they feel before things get too far. At the same time, parents should teach their children to be assertive and to resist any inappropriate situation.

The bottom line is that peer pressure has a remarkable impact on people of all ages, but the effects are felt most powerfully in childhood and adolescence. People need to be more aware of themselves and those around them, so that they care about the consequences of their actions. Make sure to make wise decisions so that peer pressure cannot affect them. In this way, we do not put ourselves in situations where we do not act in an undesirable way. Above all, each of us must take responsibility for our actions.

(The author is Mental Health Counsellor, The Learning Lobby of Practically)

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