Not only teenagers experience peer pressure, younger children and adults do as well. We can all remember being nagged into a game when we were still kids. Being in a bar and being urged to have one more drink is an example of adult peer pressure.
You will experience peer pressure throughout your life, but you will probably never experience peer pressure as intensely as you experience it during your teens.
It is because a peer group allows you to explore yourself away from home and your parents. You need to know who you are and what you’re capable of as an individual. As a teen, you push boundaries and want to be part of new things. It’s all very natural and has been going on for centuries.
You are also exploring friendships – and yourself within a friendship. Being part of a group of people who are all going through the same thing makes a lot of sense. You are all learning and exploring and growing together.
Positive peer pressure means you are with a group of friends that respect your wishes. Positive friends introduce you to challenges – like sport, dancing, music – where you grow in a positive way. They back you up and bring out aspects of you that make you feel proud. They encourage you to do better and bigger.
Negative peer pressure can be very scary and make you feel lost and alone. A negative peer group will ridicule and humiliate you into doing things you are not comfortable with. Some of these things might be drugs, alcohol, sex, theft, damaging of property and ditching school. You don’t want to get into trouble with the law or damage your health. This is not about friendship, this is about bullying.
This is the hardest part of peer pressure – finding the courage to ditch a group that will call you a sissy and laugh at you and harass you for leaving. If you choose to stay with the bullies, you put your future in their hands.
If you leave, you learn an amazing thing about yourself.
You learn that you are a hero.