Peer pressure is very strong during the adolescent years. Since so much time is spent with peers, the influence can be more powerful than that of parents, teachers, or other authority figures. During the day, teenagers spend more time with peers than with family members. Your teen's friends directly affect the perspectives and values she holds, and the decisions she makes.
Teens need to choose their friends wisely. Friends who make healthy, safe and positive decisions help motivate your teenager to follow a similar path. But peer pressure becomes more dangerous when friends have a negative influence by making unwise decisions. Your teenager can experience low self-esteem and may experiment with drugs, alcohol, shop lifting, skipping school or unsafe sex just to fit it.
By establishing values about what is right and wrong, your teenager will have a sense of what Stephen Covey calls “true north.” He says that the term, “true north” describes an inner compass that helps us understand where we are, where we want to go, and how to get there. As parents, help your teen create an inner compass that empowers her to align her life with it. The compass helps her use her values to define the difference between right and wrong. Even if they make poor decisions because of friends, it will be easier to survive this pressure during adolescence and mature into a productive young adult.
Goal setting is an important skill to possess in order to do well in life. Reaching goals allows the individual to be successful and feel the rewards of accomplishment. The goal might be finishing a difficult school assignment, making a sports team, getting into a specific college, or landing a job. Goals help give your teen a reason to strive and help the teen stay focused when there is pressure to stray off course. Goals help teens maintain their priorities, stay focused, and achieve positive results.
Without getting in the way of your child’s social interactions, be ready to respond to your teen’s discussions about friends, activities, and decisions that she is making. Remember that you are the parent and not just another friend. Your teen has lots of friends but needs you to be the parent. That can mean setting the parameters for what she can and can not do. As a parent, model the type of life you want your teen to live. Talking with your teen and modeling healthy behavior will go a long way in making certain the peer pressure does not increase the stress for your teen.