We have all heard of peer pressure and how it can lead to poor choices, and doing things we may not have done otherwise. The following is a look at the effects of peer pressure, both positive and negative, and why it is important to understand these affects if we want our children to have happy and successful lives.
The most common type of peer pressure is negative peer pressure, and it is the one parents worry about, and warn their children not to give in to. Negative peer pressure typically has the following effects:
- It is detrimental to self-esteem. Negative peer pressure makes kids feel like they are worthless. It often makes kids feel like because they are different, or are not carbon copies of their peers that they are not of value. This mindset is why negative peer pressure is so powerful, during the teenager years, people want to fit in, it is like the one goal that every teenager seems to have–be popular, be noticed, be someone.
- It will influence clear decision-making. This goes hand in hand with the above effect. When kids feel low self-esteem, they do things they may not do otherwise. Their decision-making becomes influenced for the negative, as they try to impress someone, or not be embarrassed, etc. This often leads to things like kids who have never had a drink or done drugs in their life becoming drunk and high.
- It will increase stress. Negative peer pressure causes anxiety in many kids, which is why they often succumb to it. Or, rather than give in, they isolate themselves, and become loners, who are miserable and friendless, which leads to further stress.
Basically the effects of negative peer pressure are all negative. Worst-case scenario they lead to ruined lives, and dangerous, or harmful behavior. For example, a child who gives in to peer pressure to drink, may find himself or herself with a drunk driving charge, or worse cause a fatal car accident, that will impact the rest of their life.
It is important to note the negative effects of peer pressure, but it is equally important to recognize that there can be positive peer pressure. The same forces that get kids to do stupid things can positively impact them to do good things, for examples, teens who surround themselves with people who can make good choices, and who are choosing good activities, and showing good habits, can help other teens do the same. For example, they may study, which may influence your teen to study, etc. This can lead to better grades.
It is also important to note that boys and girls are effected in different ways by peer pressure, but it is all the same. A girl may feel pressure to dress a certain way, while a boy may feel pressure to drive their car a certain way. Both can be positive and negative, so it is important to recognize this factor.