As our children hit their adolescent years, most parents begin to see a shift. Teens begin to gain more independence and they start to place more and more value on peer relationships. Because their friendships are so important to teens, peer pressure can become a very big issue during this time. Teens can become influenced by their peer circles positively, but there can also be a negative side as well.
Teen peer pressure can be dangerous
The pressure teens face from their peers can lead them into unhealthy behaviors, such as substance abuse and speeding. This is mainly because teen brains take more pleasure in social acceptance than adult brains. Because of this, teens are more likely to succumb to the pressure put on them by their peers.
According to a study conducted by the University of Michigan, teens might feel the effects of peer pressure more intensely from their close friends, as opposed to a group of their peers, because they care about them and value their opinions. Pressures from a best friend can feel more forceful and intimate than that from a larger group. For example, if a teenage girl’s best friend started drinking because they have joined a new social group, they might have a hard time saying no if their friend pressures their to have a drink. They might not want to lose their best friend to this new group of friends. If they have this fear, it is likely they will drink.
It is important for parents to get to know their teen’s friends, and understand what motivates your teen’s relationships. If you find that your child is spending a lot of time with a friend who is making poor choices, you have already established a dynamic where you can talk with your teen about what is going on. You can ask their if they have any concerns about their friends and give their the opportunity to problem solve with your support.
The positive side of teen peer pressure
Peer pressure also has a positive connotation, as teen girls and assigned female at birth might be influenced by their peers to do positive activities, such as joining a new club or helping out in the community. These new activities that can assist in building strong pathways in the brain.
As described in the article, “Teens and Decision Making: What Brain Science Reveals,” neural connections that are weak or not used very often are removed during the teen years through a process called synaptic pruning, which allows the brain to redirect valuable resources toward more active parts of the brain. Because of this, teens can, through new choices and behaviors, shape their own brain development. Through peer pressure, teens are often encouraged to engage in skill-building activities, such as sports or debate, that can not only provide challenges that stimulate the brain, but can also build stronger pathways within the brain, leading to greater academic success for the future.
Solstice RTC can help
The effects of peer pressure, although sometimes positive, can be damaging to your teen’s self esteem and daily habits. If your teen has fallen into negative activities due to peer pressure, such as substance abuse, Solstice can help. With our specialized, clinically intensive residential treatment program, we can provide your teen girl or child assigned female at birth with the help they needs to overcome peer pressure and begin their path toward healing.
For more information, please call us at (866) 278-3345.