By Azalea Te Whenua
Say you’re sitting around with friends and you are suggested to take action in something you’re not entirely sure about. After them nagging for a while, you give in and participate. It is difficult to deal with situations where you are forced to try something that you might not necessarily want to. This is an issue many teenagers in today’s society suffer from. Peer pressure.
Peer pressure can be defined as the pressure to adjust to a particular type of behaviour, dress, or attitude in order to fit in with a crowd or your so-called “friends”. According to a publication by Parent Further, only 10% of teenagers surveyed said that they had not been influenced by peer pressure, leaving 90% saying they had been. Majority of teenagers say that their peers influence them both positively and negatively, proving not all peer pressure is bad. Making decisions on your own is challenging enough, but when other people get involved, it can be even harder. You are influenced by your peers every day without realisation. You learn from them, and they learn from you. It is normal to follow other people within you’re age group.
Peer pressure is often represented as a negative issue by the majority of people. Reasons influencing this manner include being pressured into making improper decisions, carrying-out actions to upset someone around you, or even putting yourself in danger. Some examples of this are substance abuse, being somewhere without your parent’s knowledge of your whereabouts, or participating in an activity you know will get you in trouble. The main factor causing negative peer pressure is a persons desire to fit in and follow peers. This is when you choose to do something you wouldn’t otherwise do because you want to feel accepted and valued by your friends. Those who suffer most from this are children who have poor self-esteem, who feel they have few friends or feel the feel the need to impress someone. Coping well with peer influence is about getting the balance right between being yourself and fitting in with your group.
Although peer pressure has a negative reputation, peers can have a positive influence on each other. This view of peer pressure is often forgotten about and needs to be reminded. You and your friends can pressure each other into things that will improve your health, social life and make you feel good about your decisions. Positive ways to pressure a peer include of being honest, joining a sport, avoiding substances, or working hard. Others go along with peer pressure because they are curious to try something new that they see others doing. This can end successfully by finding yourself a new enjoyable activity and leading yourself down a good path for the future. Good peer pressure can be used to help each other resist bad peer pressure.
It is tough to be the only one who says “no” to peer pressure but it is easily achievable. Backing up your “no” with a strong positive statement, to get the idea through your peers, can get the message across straight away. If the pressure isn’t face-to-face with someone, the best way to avoid being pressured by others is to build up your own self-esteem; this can help you increase your confidence to make your own decisions and push back on the peer influence. Another significant way to prevent peer pressure can be to consider the results of giving in. Take a moment to think about the consequences of your actions and evaluate if it is truly best for you.
Peer pressure is not always a bad thing, and it is important to remember that peer influencing is a normal part of adolescence. It is something that most young adults experience throughout their young years, so don’t be afraid to try something new if you feel it is right for you.