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What is Peer Pressure? Dealing with Peer Pressure!

  • Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were being encouraged to do something that you felt really uncomfortable doing?
  • Did you agree to go along with the individual or group or did you hold true to yourself and your values and refuse?

If you gave into the pressure(s) being placed upon you by others, you became a victim of negative peer pressure. If you were able to deny the insistence, suggestion or pressure by others, Congratulations!

Sometimes, and for many reasons, we find it difficult to say “no” to others.  Why?

If I had to guess, I’d probably say for a multitude of reasons. Perhaps you were afraid that you’d hurt someone’s feelings or maybe you were worried that you’d be looked upon differently by others.

Perhaps you REALLY wanted to participate and the least bit of encouragement from your peers was all it took to sway your decision.

What you are experiencing in situation(s) such as this is Peer Pressure and there are two types: Positive and Negative.

Most of us are aware of, either from word of mouth, reading or personal experience, Negative Peer Pressure which is being asked, encouraged or told to do something that you typically would be opposed to doing. Peer pressure, in teens, is fueled by a teenagers need to feel accepted, approved of, and belonging to certain social circles.

Sadly, due to one’s desire to feel a part of a group, good judgment can be impaired resulting in participation in risk-taking behavior(s) and dangerous activities. Often peer pressure is responsible for driving a wedge in between a teen and his/her family resulting in the positive influences of the family being reduced or eliminated.

Usually, negative peer pressure leads to feelings of deep regret within the teen and can result in very negative outcomes. An example of negative peer pressure would be a teenager that is encouraged to throw a pool party when his/her parents are away on business even though he knows the “house rules” forbid this activity.

Although his/her friends are enjoying the party, the teenager has gone against what he/she knows is correct and right and feels a sense of remorse and/or the fear of being caught by his/her parents. Peer pressure is a force to be reckoned with.

If you don’t think so, remember Jiminy Cricket. (Let your conscience be your guide).

On the other hand, there is also Positive Peer Pressure which typically presents itself as a form of encouragement or suggestion to do something desirable that perhaps wouldn’t have otherwise been done without the suggestion having been proposed and/or presented.

Positive peer pressure can result in a teen’s energy being “super charged” and is often reflected through his/her new motivation for success. Positive peer pressure may include a new desire to emulate a classmate’s study habits to improve grades in an effort to be “college” material.

It might be the sudden urge to join a tennis team or chess club because someone that you admire is participating and enjoying another aspect of teenage life. Positive peer pressure is normally associated with more desirable outcomes and appropriate behaviors.

Why Do Children, Teens & Adults Fall Victim to Peer Pressure

Peer groups for young children, teenagers and adults are a normal, necessary and healthy part of an individual’s development.

It allows us, as individuals, to develop our identity, and provides us with a “support group” for discussing problems, sharing information, improving our social skills and exploring our values.

Within this group, we are able to interact with those whom we consider our equals thereby promoting our independence.  By spreading our wings and building new relationships, we are able to develop our sense of self-worth and our level of self-confidence

Sometimes, even within our social arena, we can fall victim to negative forms of peer pressure.

Being unable to resist the temptation(s) of negative peer pressure can be a result of many things more often than not it is due to one lacking self-esteem or self-confidence.

It can be attributed to wanting to “fit in” or belong to a certain social group enough that we are willing to throw our good judgment out the window just to be a part of the desired group.

This is common of individuals who don’t necessarily have a peer group or group of friends with whom they can engage socially.

You might even feel that “if you do this” whatever THIS is, you’ll become more popular or get noticed by a cute girl or boy that you’ve had your eye on.

Problem is, although you may get noticed or even become popular for a day or even a week, your popularity may not be the type you were hoping for and in fact may result in the formation of negative opinions about you by your peers.