Peer pressure is not always bad. Not all teens have similar cultural values and moral systems. Mostly, being with friends only reinforce family values in teens as they learn to form relationships, share and get involved with people their own age and learn to live as an individual and not as a child who depends on his parents for everything. However, it does have the potential to encourage problem behaviors too. We need to understand and differentiate between positive and negative peer influence. Teens need to steer their way through negative influence and mingle more with positive peer groups.
Parents need to make teens understand about and make them aware of the realities of peer and media pressure and challenge them to think in innovative ways and make their own decisions without leaving behind their common sense and blindly following the crowds. It has been seen that family problems such as financial struggles or divorce of parents may prompt teens to look up to their peers for emotional support and they start feeling closer to their friends than their parents by high school years. Individual and family stress such as work stress, marital dissatisfactions or increasing expenses, all play a role in parent-adolescent conflicts.
These conflicts do not mean that parent adolescent relationship is about to breakdown. It only means relationship negotiations and that parents need to include adolescents in making decisions and setting rules that affect their lives and share reins with them. In families, where parents and adolescents are trapped in distressed relationships, there is emotional coldness, frequent angry outbursts and disagreements, unresolved conflicts and withdrawal from family life; teens are at high risk for various psychological and behavioral problems. You need to be there for your child and teach them how to say ‘No’.
It is difficult to go against the wind but teens need to access their own feelings, beliefs and sense of right and wrong carefully and use their inner strength and self-confidence to take a firm stand, resist doing something they don’t like or don’t want to and just walk away. Having a friend or peer with similar values, who is ready to back up your child with his decision, can be a great asset when it comes to resist peer pressure while a friend who cannot resist peer pressure may become a burden on your kid. Still, if a teen is alone and feels challenged with peer pressure, he needs to say ‘No’ and walk away and perhaps mixing with bad apples or peers who pressurize him to go against his will.