October 6, 2011

Peer Pressure and Risk Taking

Peer pressure negative or positive will have lifelong consequences. Insure good doses of positiveness in a young person’s life.
Ken B Marslew, CEO of EIE
Youth is a period characterised by rapid psychological and physical transition, where young people progress from being dependent children to independent adults. In this stage of life, people may be vulnerable to the influences of peer pressure, and may be inclined to experiment, push boundaries and take risks that could impact on their immediate and longer term health and wellbeing. 
These risky behaviours include risk drinking, illicit drug use and dangerous driving with some of the potential consequences: being charged with criminal offences, being involved in an accident or violence; hospitalisation and, in some cases, death.

Youth is often the stage of life when young people begin to experiment with alcohol and other drugs, often followed their peers’ ‘everyone is doing it’.
The difference between negative and positive peer pressure
“A healthy part of every child’s development is involvement with their peers. This is especially true during adolescence as teenagers develop a sense of independence from their parents.” – by Bruce A.Epstein
We all feel pressure (either from inside or outside ourselves) to be like other people. Peer pressure plays a big role in determining who we are and how we talk, act and dress. 

How we chose to react to peer pressure defines who we are as an individual. Are you a leader or a follower? Another thing to remember is that people in groups act differently and do things they’d never do on their own. Why? Because we all lose at least some of our identity in a group. And the normal controls we put on our behaviour can crumble before the need we all feel to fit in and be respected by others.

The difference between negative and positive peer pressure is the outcome. Good friends can encourage teens to get involved in positive activities, help them learn good social skills and other ways to work out problems, and give teens good advice.

Negative peer pressure is when teens feel pressured to do something they know is wrong, such as doing drugs, smoking, drinking, stealing, or something they don’t want to do such as having sex, etc.

Why young people (and not young too..) are vulnerable to negative peer pressure?
● To be accepted and liked by people their own age
● To appear grown up
● Afraid of being rejected
● Afraid of losing a friend
● Afraid of being teased /bullied
● Don’t know how to say “no”
● To be a part of the group, don’t feel alone
● Don’t know what they really want

Tips for parents

" Parents should not underestimate the role of peers in a teenager’s life, but should try to encourage their child to have his own ideas, opinions and wants. " by Jolien Sichien

“Adolescents want to be independent and dependent at the same time,” says Benjamin Siegel, MD, paediatrician. “On one hand, they want to assert their independence. On the other, they need their parents.” 

Yours rules and structure give your teen a framework for understanding the world, even if he protests. 

When teens were asked what their parents could do to discourage drinking, the answers were surprisingly simple:
Talk to us.
Teens say they want to know what their parents think and how they make decisions

Punish us.
Teens who break rules typically wait to see what happens. If there are no consequences, the rules don’t matter.

Limit overnight visits.
Not having to go home can be too much freedom to handle

Wait up for us.

Knowing they have to face mum or dad, or both, in a few hours makes most teens think twice about the shape they will be in when they get home.

Parents need to set clear expectations for behaviour, establish rules about communicating where and with whom their teenagers are spending their time. By communicating your expectations and consequences, your adolescent cannot claim they “did not know” that you would be upset.These boundaries need to be included in your teenager's internet use.
If you really believe that a particular peer group is negatively impacting you child, it is important to deal with reasons your teen is being influenced in this direction. An adolescent is drawn to a particular group because it “feeds” them in some way.

He or she may have problems with self-confidence and self-esteem and feel it is necessary to fit in any way possible. 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.
“Talk to your children about peer pressure. Explain what a powerful force it can be, and... tell them that you will never accept the excuse that “Everyone did it”... that they will be held responsible for their actions.” Tom McMahon
If you believe your concerns are serious, talk to your teenager about behaviour and choices – not the friends. Encourage your teen’s independence by supporting decision making based on principles and not other people. Encourage reflective thinking by helping your teen think about his or her actions in advance and discussing immediate and long-term consequences of risky behaviour.
If you are in Sydney, please contact our Counselling Unit to arrange a private counselling sessions with your teen on 02 9542 4029.

Tips for Adolescence

It’s important to have a strong self-image because it develops confidence in what you do and how you relate to your peers and loved one.
Peer pressure is testing your will to refuse something you don’t want to do, or know that is wrong for you such as high-risk behaviours.
What consequences?

Drugs and alcohol have really consequences that can affect the quality of your life for a long time. Think about the changes in brain chemistry that can follow periods of drug use. Think about it. You can be involved in an accident, violence crime, and hospitalisation.

Learn how to handle peer pressure

Peer pressure can be direct or indirect. Peer pressure can be negative and positive. But even pressure to do good things can be bad for you, if you don’t learn to say NO when you need to.
Practice ways to say No: 
Avoid following PEER PRESSURE such as, "...if you're my friend, you'll help me; if you love me, you'll have sex with me; if you want me to be happy, you'll go along with my plan." These are bully tactics -- don't fall for them!
You can say:
● “Not tonight. I have to study.”
● “No, thanks. I am in training.”
● “Hey! No way!”
● “Just leave me alone.”
● Alcohol’s NOT my thing.
● Back OFF!
● Why do you keep pressuring me when I’ve said NO?
“I’m fine.”
Learn to Say NO nicely – “N.I.C.E” to say NO
N: Say “No”. Not “maybe” or “later”.
I: Follow with an “I” statement: “I’m not going to .... , it is not part of my life plan”
C: If pressure continues, “Change”. Change the topic. Change your conversation partner. Change the location.
E: If these strategies do not help, you need “Exit “plan. Leave a bad situation immediately.
Sometimes you can feel pressure just watching how others act or dress (indirect peer pressure), without them saying a word to you. This “unspoken pressure” is especially hard to resist, because instead of standing up to a friend, you are standing up to how you feel inside. In this case, your best strategy is to decide what you really want and always being true to yourself and your values. 

Think about your options and what consequences will be of your decisions and actions.It actually takes courage to be your own person. Don’t forget, there is no other person exactly like you. We are all unique, and can’t really be compared to anyone because our experiences have all been different. Have confidence that you can do what you set out to do in life, without relying on what other people think.

A true friend will take NO for an answer and not try to make you do something you don’t want to do. 

And you will find that when you are self confident, you exert an energy that makes others want to be around you.

Enough is Enough have been successfully presenting programs in primary and secondary schools, Juvenile Justice and adult Correctional Centres for over ten years. 

Programs include responsibility, resilience, leadership tools, alternative schools of thought and tools for positive change. These programs are suitable for students, teachers, youth at risk and those who work with them. We also have programs for those with special needs. Programs are presented nationally. 

1. Denise Witmer, The difference between negative and positive peer pressure.
2. Jennifer James, Peer pressure and choices: How to Think for Yourself.
3. Joanne Barker, Brunilda Nazario, MD, Teens and Peer Pressure.
4. Port Clinton, Help Teens Say No!
5. Parents, Speak Up! U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
6. ABS Statistics

1 comment:

  1. Everything never starts from Big, making precautions gives a head start. That what my parent always says to me. Parents who have awareness over their kids gives a head start in solving bigger issues.

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