Protect children from negative peer pressure

ACADEMIC SUCCESS is not the sole product of sheer hard work, well-equipped libraries and Harvard University-trained teachers. It is so intricate and multi-faceted.
Nyamosi Zachariah
Nyamosi Zachariah

ACADEMIC SUCCESS is not the sole product of sheer hard work, well-equipped libraries and Harvard University-trained teachers. It is so intricate and multi-faceted. A plethora of factors interact with each other favourably for success to be realised, while on the downside, unfavourable interaction produces a mess in form of school grades.

The negative side of peer pressure leads to disastrous behaviour and dismal performance for students. Although it is in the public domain that peer pressure can thwart students’ academic achievement, it does not dominate academic counseling sessions and consultations. Buying more books, doing homework and consulting teachers dominate conversations.

The influence of peers on each other can have an immense effect.What causes peer pressure? Alice Langholt examines this question and gives a detailed view of this subject.

Some of the main causes of peer pressure are related to age-appropriate behaviour. Adolescents develop a strong desire to fit in with their peers and be accepted by them. This desire makes adolescent peer pressure tough to resist.

It’s important for parents and teachers to equip their students with the skills needed for dealing with peer pressure. If teens don’t learn to be confident in themselves and their decisions, they will more likely engage in unsafe or illegal behavior. They’ll also have a higher risk of depression and other emotional issues.

Knowing Peer Pressure

Peer pressure isn’t just about a a group of kids daring someone to do something. Often, it’s much more subtle. Peer pressure occurs when group of people coerce each other to go along with certain beliefs or behaviours. The group approves of the followers and sometimes harshly disapproves of those who don’t fall in line. The consequences of being rejected by one’s peers are embarrassment and shame, both very negative emotions for teens.

An obvious form of peer pressure is teen drinking at parties. Kids who attend are expected to drink and some may be expected to drink heavily. Subtler forms of peer pressure exist in clothing choices or attitudes toward sex or drug use. Simply agreeing with the group’s attitudes usually isn’t enough; teens have to prove themselves by backing their words with actions.

Generally there are a few people in the group that are the leaders. These individuals set the rules for everyone else and are seen as authority figures by their peers. Anyone who challenges the rules is challenging the authority of the leaders. Teens may be unwilling to speak up because they’re afraid to lose friendship with one of these leaders or because they fear losing their status in the group.

Who Is Most Vulnerable?

Teens with few boundaries or rules at home are far more susceptible to peer pressure than those with firm expectations and strict rules. Parents have a surprisingly strong influence on teens. Setting clear boundaries, with consequences, cements this influence.

Parents who are involved in their children’s lives give their children the confidence to stand up to their peers. Teens don’t expect their peers to respect them for standing up for themselves, but most who do find that they are respected. If a group rejects a teen for resisting the pressure, that teen is often strong enough to find a different peer group that is more positive.


Help your teen find peers who exert  positive influence, and all will be well. If the leader of the group is one who has few boundaries at home, or is looking for peers to go along with rebellious behaviour, encourage your teen to find a different set of friends. The leadership of the peer group determines what the group will do.

Know your teen’s friends. Try to involve your teen in clubs, sports and other groups that will offer a positive form of peer pressure that respects achievement, cooperation and teamwork.


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