Three Warning Signs that Peer Pressure is Negatively Affecting your Child
Peer pressure is an unavoidable fact of adolescent life. There is a constant pressure to fit into the group and conform, coming at the very stage in life when the teenager is trying to discover herself as an individual.
While not all peer pressure is harmful, it often can have a negative effect on teenagers. Here are three warning signs to watch for as your teen attempts to navigate a tricky time.
Fixation on Image
Sudden body-image issues, an obsession with clothes or hairstyles, either separate from or along with an overall fixation on appearance, can often be a sign of negative peer pressure. The rules of image and style in teendom can be rigid and unforgiving, and this is especially true in the age of social media where everyone has an endless parade of profile pics and regularly posts selfies.
While adolescents will always likely have a preoccupation with matters of image, watch if your teenager is beginning to put undue pressure on herself when it comes to her body image or fashion sense. Likely that pressure is originating from peer groups, and it’s worth trying to navigate a conversation about how she’s feeling, especially if you sense that she’s despairing of ever fitting in.
In a lot of circles, academic achievement isn’t considered the coolest thing. There’s a lot of denigrating of intellect or educational curiosity in the teen world. As a result, smart or motivated students may intentionally disregard homework and studying as a way to keep from getting mocked.
Also, slipping grades can indicate that constant efforts to fit in isn’t leaving enough time for schoolwork requirements. Make sure that your teen knows how important her studies are now, as well as in the future. She may not accept all the ramifications of that conversation (or any other that involves “the future”), but it will stick with her when she has to make tough choices about hanging out with friends vs. hitting the books.
Growing Periods of Isolation
Walling herself off, whether physically, emotionally, or both, is a typical reaction when peer pressure just gets to be too much. A tendency to isolate can be an indicator that the teen isn’t finding a way to belong to any peer group — at least not her preferred one. She may even be subject to excessive mocking or bullying, and so has put the best coping mechanism she can into place.
Even grownups sometimes feel the sting of not “fitting in.” Try to remember how this can be much harsher for adolescents when so much of their lives revolve around social interactions, and they spend many hours a day with the same set of peers with no escape (we at least have a lunch hour to get away from coworkers). It’s important to note if your teenager is retreating into too much solitude or is excessively sullen. This often comes from a place of fear, and the culprit can be the negative pressure exerted by peer groups.