Peer Pressure or Personal Pressure?

Maria Elena is a 16-year-old from Wilmington, DE. She enjoys dancing and cooking and her favorite subject is Math because she likes solving big equations.L'Adolescente - 10 (ou la Petite Boticelli) by Madame Li.

“If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?” is a common analogy that parents use to talk to teens about making their own decisions and being their own person, but is that really still the truth today? Many teens today are focused on being different and unique, trying really hard to not blend in with the crowd. Teens aren’t pressured by other teens—they pressure themselves.

Every day teens are reminded of the high standards that parents, teachers, and friends hold for them. Too often teens do things because they think that it will help them meet the high standard or push it higher. All teens want to do is make people proud and impressed.

Peer pressure is occurring more and more in younger teens and personal pressure is happening more in older teens. As teens get older they realize that their friends do not control them or their opinions. Older teens want to be independent and their own person, they want to make their own decisions; they want to be in control. The pressure that older teens have is not from peers anymore, but from parents, teachers, school, and essentially, themselves. Think your teen is pressured? Here’s how to help:

  1. Tell your teen that you are there for them and want to help if you can.
  2. Be interested in their stressors and pressures because it shows that you care.
  3. Offer activities to help relieve the pressure and encourage them to take time to relax.

Younger teens, or tweens, have a ton of peer pressure because they still want to feel like they fit in and belong. They are not mature yet and think that their friends will desert them if they like something different or be unique. Do you notice that your tween is feeling peer pressure? Here is what you can do:

  1. Talk to your tween about their morals and your family values.
  2. Let your tween know that it is okay to be themselves and to express themselves.
  3. Show your tween that you understand that they want to be “cool” but they cannot let others pressure them into doing things they do not want to.

If your tween or teen is feeling pressure, it is normal and okay. Stay involved in your teen’s life and don’t turn a blind eye to what they’re doing. Be supportive and loving and work with your teen and everything will work itself out.

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