Though you can not see or touch it, peer pressure is real. All teenagers are affected by it at some point in their life.
Teen Peer Pressure is when a person does something they normally would not do in order to fit into a group of peers or impress them. Smoking a cigarette when you think it is a gross habit is a perfect example.
Some forms of peer pressure are unspoken. For example, you may begin visiting Starbucks every morning because that is what the "cool" kids do. It also includes the way you dress and even how you talk.
Other variations can be dangerous. Trying drugs or speeding on a curvy back road can cause you your life.
Dangers of Peer Pressure
Most teenagers survive their teen years unscarred. However, there are two main dangers peer pressure can cause.
- Mental: Low self-esteem can result from trying too hard to fit in. For some teens, no matter how much you change, you never feel good enough.
- Physical: Drugs, alcohol, sex and even dares can put your life at risk. Always evaluate the risks before doing something just because "everyone else is doing it."
Types of Teen Peer Pressure
Pressure to conform is felt from friends, enemies, acquaintances and even from you. Anytime you do something to fit in or to prove you are different, you are falling into a pattern.
Pressure to be Fashion Conscious
Teenagers want to be like other teens. Styles change every year and to be considered "cool" you need to have the latest in fashion trends. Teens may wear clothes they do not feel comfortable in because their friends are wearing the same types of clothes.
Changes in Attitude
It is easy to pick up the same attitude as your friends. If they no longer care about their grades, you may suddenly stop caring. Often students skip class to follow the leader, not because they think it is a great idea. If you notice your attitude changing and do not like it, you may consider changing your friends.
If your friends are involved in a certain sport or club, chances are you want to be too. Wanting to be where they are is understandable. They may have said something to you at one time to dissuade you from joining the club you originally wanted to, or teased you for not wanting to hang out with them.
Dating and Sex
The pressure to date the right person is real. Status in high school is often linked with who is hanging on your arm. At the same time, you may feel pressured to have sex with that person either by your friends or your date in order to fit in and be liked. Studies show that "not everyone is doing it."
Treating Other Students Badly
If you find yourself being mean to someone you used to be friends with, chances are you are responding to the influence of your friends. Just like dating, whom you hang out with is a status symbol. If your new friends treat others badly, unfortunately you may feel it is better to taunt and tease rather than be the student who is harassed.
Drugs and Alcohol
The pressure to fit in can get you into big trouble when it comes to drugs and alcohol. Not only are they illegal, they are bad for you. Both can have serious long-term effects.
Parties with alcohol present are common in high school. Some students like to drink because they think it's cool. Other students want you to drink so they can take advantage of you. Drugs and alcohol impair your judgment, causing you to do things you normally would not do, such as engaging in sex.
The results of teen peer pressure are not fun. They often leave you feeling worse about yourself. However, you can become immune to it by taking control.
Choose Your Friends Wisely
If you become involved in a clique with students who are more interested in themselves, you will feel more pressure to fit in. Avoid students who make you feel uncomfortable or belittle your self worth. Surround yourself by those who share the same interests and like you for who you are. You should not have to change to be included in a group of friends.
Just Say "No"
It's not always as easy as it sounds, but you have the option to say "no." Stand up for yourself. You do not have to explain your reasons. Though it may not seem like it at the time, you will be respected more for saying "no" than doing something stupid to impress others.
Use a Bogey
If you are uncomfortable in a situation and do not have the confidence to say "no," use your parents as a bogey (or an excuse). "I can't come over tonight because my grandpa is in town." Or "My parents told me if I'm not home by 11 they'll take away the car."
The best way to deal with teen peer pressure is to work on building your self-confidence and being yourself. Though your teenage years seem like they last forever, you will soon be in college and with a whole new group of friends. Stand up for yourself and what you believe in.