Much research has shown that peer pressure has a much greater impact on adolescent behavior than any other factor. Think about it. Your teenager spends many more of his or her waking hours with peers than with family members. The interaction is direct, and much more powerful than the influence of teachers and other authority figures. Peer pressure tends to have more of an effect on children with low self-esteem. If a child feels compelled to fit in, the teen may do things that go against his or her beliefs simply to be part of the group.
Peer pressure can lead to experimentation with drugs and alcohol, sex, skipping school, and various high-risk behaviors. If you notice a sudden change in your child’s appearance, clothing, and attitude, especially if accompanied by secretive behavior, he or she may be succumbing to the influences of peers. You should be especially alert to sudden changes in the friends who make up their core peer group. An unexplained change in the type of friends you child associates with would indicate that your child is vulnerable to new influences that may not be positive.
How can parents, who spend far less time with their children than do their peers, have an influence on their teens? Parents need to set clear expectations for behavior, establish rules about communicating where and with whom their teenagers are spending their time, and should pre-set consequences for lying about activities or where they are going. By communicating your expectations, your adolescent cannot claim they “did not know” that you would be upset.
One of the most difficult issues can be when a teen decides to hang out with the “wrong crowd.” Parents often find it is difficult to control such behavior. They will lament that when they forbid their teen to hang out with certain people, those people become a virtual magnet for their teen. Often by simply setting the rules about communicating their whereabouts, you will limit the effects of any peer group. However, if you really believe that a particular peer group is negatively impacting your child, it is important to deal with the reasons your teen is being influenced in this direction. He or she may have problems with self-esteem and self-confidence and feel it is necessary to fit in anyway possible, even if it means fitting in with a negative peer group. Parents will not change the teen’s attitude by forbidding access to these peers. They can only change the attitude by dealing with the primary issues that cause it in the first place. An adolescent is drawn to a particular group because it “feeds” them in some way. If they are choosing the wrong group, there is a fundamental core issue that needs to be addressed therapeutically before any significant change can occur.
Aspen Education Group has a number of programs that can help pre-adolescent and adolescent children cope with negative peer pressure. These intensive programs can quickly narrow down the issues your child is experiencing to help him or her on a positive life path.
The Academy at Swift River offers a residential program that provides students with the opportunity to develop deep and lasting friendships. It is a home away frome home where students live in a caring and supportive environment surounded by a staff that is truly dedicated to helping them achieve their dreams. Talk to a program program representative for more information.
Adirondack Leadership Expeditions is a character development program that promotes personal growth through a focus on insight-oriented experiences. The forested, mountain setting removes urban distractions and simplifies options to help students gain insight into their core values and accept responsibility for their choices. Our program’s nurturing approach helps participants address personal issues, achieve success in a safe environment, and develop their leadership potential. Talk to a program representative for more information.
Lone Star Expeditions is a therapeutic intervention program with a focus on insight-oriented experiences, rather than behavior modification. Students join an existing group with others on various levels. The rolling admissions process allows them to enter a positive peer culture using peer pressure in a constructive way. Talk to a Lone Star Expeditions is a therapeutic intervention program with a focus on insight-oriented experiences, rather than behavior modification. Students join an existing group with others on various levels. The rolling admissions process allows them to enter a positive peer culture using peer pressure in a constructive way. Talk to a program representative for more information. for more information.
Our Assessment Test can help you determine if a residential program might be best for your particular child.