May 14 2011
In the midst of a high school party held by a fellow classmate, you find yourself surrounded by music blaring, people dancing, and boisterous teenagers socializing. In the back you find a group of girls gossiping, when an older senior boy walks in with a case of beer. The stress level in the room rises as the boy attempts to persuade the girls towards underage drinking. Although underage drinking is against the girls’ morals, they will do anything to feel accepted by their peers. When teenagers are faced with negative peer pressure, their stress levels may rise due to the need to fit in,PE therefore, learning to deal with peer pressure is a beneficial skill for teenagers especially in high school.
Most stress felt by teenagers comes from both positive and negative peer pressures. The pressure to fit in and be accepted by peers can cause a heavy amount of stress on adolescents. D’Arcy Lyness, a Behavioral Health Editor for KidsHealth and a child and adolescent psychologist agrees on the topic. According to Lyness, “…the stresses in your life can actually come from your peers. They may pressure you into doing something you’re uncomfortable with, such as shoplifting, doing drugs or drinking, taking dangerous risks when driving a car, or having sex before you feel ready” (3). Teenagers can take part in many destructive acts such as doing drugs or drinking, and when a teenager is put under negative peer pressure to take part in such acts, they are put under an immense amount of stress. Although, peer pressure is not always negative; the pressure to do well academically or in the pressure to do well in sports, can be helpful for a teenager. Lyness also states, “Peers set plenty of good examples for each other. Having peers who are committed to doing well in school or to doing their best in a sport can influence you to be more goal-oriented, too. Peers who are kind and loyal influence you to build these qualities in yourself” (2). When a teenager is pressured to do well in activities that are positive, the adolescent will feel less stressed. Even though most teenagers are pressured into destructive acts such as doing drugs, adolescents can also receive positive peer pressure that may be helpful to the teen. Not all peer pressures are negative however, negative peer pressure causes the most amount of stress on teens.
Even though pressures from peers can be destructive and cause stress, both negative and positive peer influences are inevitable and a normal part of growing up. Lisa Hawes, a marriage and family therapist in Calgary, and a parent educator with the Family Program at the Calgary Community Learning Association pointed out that, “when we honor our children with the same respect as we hope their peers will extend to them, we teach them to be satisfied with no less. Children who develop healthy, confident “solid selves” will seldom experience peer influences as pressure” (Hawes 1). From the time babies are born, they are surrounded by people that will influence the child; a child’s parent is in essence the first “peer” a child has. Parental influences are also one of the healthiest authorities a child has throughout their life.
Aside from parental influences being the healthiest influence on a child’s life, the current changes in technology have also aided the amount of pressures with teens. Due to the heavy influence of technology in today’s society, the amount of communication between teenagers has also increased; therefore, the amount of pressures within teenagers has increased. Because most teenagers use cell phones and are in constant contact with each other, the chances are greater that teenagers will be faced with pressures from their peers. According to the website, Stress-management-4-women.com, “Many teens are tethered to their mobile multimedia phones 24/7. They can text their friends on a continuous and instantaneous basis, make telephone calls, photo-document their activities…” Because adolescents are always in contact, there is a greater chance for peers to put pressures on each other. Furthermore, a decrease in the amount of technology teen’s use will decrease the possibilities of a teenager facing peer pressure. This can cause greater amounts of pressure and stress on adolescents.
When teenagers are faced with immense amounts of peer pressure, and become stressed, the most successful way to deal with the pressure is guidance from a parent. A teen’s parent will aid the teenager because a parent is the most influential “peer” a child has. According to Hawes, a marriage and family therapist in Calgary, “From earliest childhood, each time our needs are met, our wants are considered and our expressions recognized we develop a sense of ourselves as being worthy and valuable” (1). Therefore, when a parent instills a sense of strong morals and self-worth in their child, the child will expect the same respect from their peers. When a teenager has strong morals and is unaffected by peer pressure, they will feel a lesser amount of stress and pressure. Parents must be taught to teach their children strong morals from a young age, because it will help the child steer away from every type of pressure by understanding the morals learned at a young age and sticking to them.
Although all types of peer pressure are common with every teenager, parental influences and a strong sense of morals are the most effective ways to deal with peer pressure. A decrease in peer pressure and the constant need to fit in will ultimately decrease the amount of stress felt by teenagers. Helping students develop strong morals will ultimately aid the teens and help them make constructive decisions as opposed to destructive decisions. “The stress of resisting unhealthy peer pressure can be buffered by good family relationships and a high self-esteem, and it is often those adolescents with neither who succumb to unhealthy pressure from their peers” (L. Eugene Arnold).
“Articles-The Ins and Outs of Peer Pressure.” Calgary Allergy Network Home Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Apr. 2011. <http://www.calgaryallergy.ca/Articles/English/peerpressure.html>.
Longo, Mary F. “Lightening the Load for the Pressured Child.” Education Digest. Sept. 2000: 47-49. SIRS Researcher. Web. 06 Apr 2011.
“Peer Pressure Increases Stress in Teens.” Stress Management for Women. N.p., n.d.Web. 6 Apr. 2011. <http://www.stress-management-4-women.com/peerpressure.html>.
“Peer Pressure .” KidsHealth - the Web’s most visited site about children’s health. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Apr. 2011. <http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/friends/peer_pressure.html>.
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