Young people generally want to fit in to their various social groups so peer approval is a significant driver for their behaviour. For a young person resisting peer influence can mean isolation or instant ostracising so it sometimes takes great strength of will to refuse to follow the crowd.
It is important for parents to understand the value of peer groups for young people and also remember that peers can be positive influences.
While the increased influence of peers is a normal part of a young person’s development they can sometimes use some help to resist the pressure to conform that is placed on them.
The following ideas may assist you to help young people resist unwanted peer pressure:
1.Talk about peer influence with young people. Be open and frank about the subject. Let them know that while much of the influence of their friends is positive, some is not in their best interests
2. Teach young people how to say no – and still save face and status among their friends. Allow them to blame you for not letting them do something they don’t feel comfortable with but can’t admit to.
3. Encourage them to think through the consequences of their decisions. The adult brain doesn’t kick in until around 24 or 25 years of age and the last connections are fomred are those that help the reasoning process. So young people need help thinking through the outcomes of their choices. When young people are put on the spot they should think about the risk factors involved and err on the side of caution. Encourage them to think “Is this behaviour smart? Is it in my best interests?”
4.Avoid making your young person reliant on the approval of others, including you, as the basis of their self-esteem. Allow them to feel comfortable holding opinions and views that are different to yours.
5. Avoid criticising your teenager’s friends, as he or she may take it personally. Discuss your concerns and talk about behaviours rather than personalities when you discuss their choice of friends. Criticise their frinds and you run the risk that they will listen more to their friends than you, particularly if they are at a challenging stage of their development.
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