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Is my teen's
just normal teenage rebellion?
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DRUGS THAT TEENS ARE ABUSING?
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Help! My teen is a
What is 'normal' teen
and what is cause for concern?
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Your Teen's Friends
Peer Influence & Peer
Positive Peer Pressure -
Negative Peer Pressure
Positive & Healthy Relationships -
When Parents Don't Approve
on Peer Relationships
Everyone needs to belong to feel connected with others and
be with others who share attitudes, interests, and circumstances that resemble
their own. People choose friends who accept and like them and see them in
a favorable light.
Teens want to be with people their own age their peers.
During adolescence, teens spend more time with
their peers and without parental supervision. With peers, teens can be
both connected and independent, as they break away from their parents' images of
them and develop identities of their own.
While many families help teens in feeling proud and confident of their
unique traits, backgrounds, and abilities, peers are
often more accepting of the feelings, thoughts, and actions
associated with the teen's search for self-identity.
The influence of peers whether positive or negative is of
critical importance in your teen's life. Whether you like it or not, the
opinions of your child's peers often carry more weight than yours.
Positive Peer Pressure
ability to develop healthy friendships and peer relationships depends on a teen's self-identity,
self-esteem, and self-reliance.
At its best, peer pressure can mobilize your teen's
energy, motivate for success, and
encourage your teen to conform to healthy behavior. Peers can and do act
as positive role models. Peers can and do demonstrate appropriate social
behaviors. Peers often listen to, accept, and understand the frustrations,
challenges, and concerns associated with being a teenager.
Negative Peer Pressure
The need for acceptance, approval, and belonging is vital during
the teen years. Teens who feel isolated or
rejected by their peers or
in their family
are more likely to engage in risky behaviors in order to fit in with a group.
In such situations, peer pressure
can impair good judgment and fuel risk-taking behavior, drawing a teen away
from the family and positive influences and luring into dangerous
For example, teens with
learning differences or disabilities
are often rejected due to their age-inappropriate behavior, and thus are more
likely to associate with other rejected and/or delinquent peers. Some
experts believe that teenage girls frequently enter into
when what they are
seeking is acceptance, approval, and love.
A powerful negative peer influence can
motivate a teen to make choices and engage in behavior that his or her values
might otherwise reject.
teens will risk being grounded, losing their parents' trust, or even facing jail
time, just to try and fit in or feel like they have a group of friends they can
identify with and who accept them. Sometimes, teens will change the way they dress,
their friends, give up their values or create new ones, depending on the people
they hang around with.
Some teens harbor secret lives
governed by the influence of their peers. Some including those
who appear to be well-behaved, high-achieving teens when they are with adults engage in negative,
even dangerous behavior when with their peers.
Once influenced, teens may continue the
slide into problems with the law,
problems, authority defiance,
gang involvement, etc.
If your teen associates with people who are using
drugs or displaying
then your child is probably doing the same.
Encourage Healthy and Positive Relationships
It is important to encourage friendships among teens.
We all want our children to be with persons who will have a positive influence,
and stay away from persons who will encourage or engage in harmful,
destructive, immoral, or illegal activities.
Parents can support positive peer relationships by giving their teenagers their love, time, boundaries,
and encouragement to think for themselves.
Specifically, parents can show support by:
Having a positive
relationship with your teen. When
parent-teen interactions are characterized by warmth, kindness,
consistency, respect, and love, the relationship will flourish, as will
the teen's self-esteem, mental health, spirituality, and social skills.
genuinely interested in your teen's activities. This allows parents
to know their teen's friends and to monitor behavior, which is crucial in keeping teens out of trouble. When
misbehavior does occur, parents who have involved their children in setting
family rules and consequences can expect less flack from their children as
they calmly enforce the rules. Parents who, together with their children,
set firm boundaries and high expectations may find that their children's
abilities to live up to those expectations grow.
independent thought and expression. In this way, teens can develop
a healthy sense of self and an
enhanced ability to resist peer
Parents Don't Approve
You may not be comfortable about your son or daughter's choice of friends or peer group.
This may be because of their image, negative attitudes, or serious behaviors
(such as alcohol use,
Here are some suggestions:
Get to know the friends of your teen. Learn
their names, invite them into your home so you can talk and listen to them,
and introduce yourself to their parents.
not attack your child's friends. Remember
that criticizing your teen's choice of friends is like a personal attack.
Help your teen understand the difference between image
(expressions of youth culture) and identity (who he or she is).
the lines of communication open and find out why these friends are important
to your teenager.
whether your concerns about their friends are real and important.
If you believe your concerns are serious,
talk to your teenager about
behavior and choices -- not the friends.
your teen's independence by supporting decision-making based on
principles and not other people.
Let your teen know of your concerns and
Encourage reflective thinking by helping your teen
think about his or her actions in advance and discussing immediate and
long-term consequences of risky behavior.
that we all learn valuable lessons from mistakes.
No matter what kind of peer influence your teen faces,
he or she
must learn how to balance the value of going along with the crowd (connection) against the
importance of making principle-based decisions (independence)
And you must ensure that your teen
knows that he or she is loved and valued as an individual at home.
Read All The Books
More Information on Peer
Adolescents with High-Risk Sexual Attitudes Attract Peers with
Similar Attitude ~ High-risk
in adolescents appears to be influenced by the sexual attitudes of
peers, and young people select friends whose attitudes about sex are
consistent with their own attitudes.
Adolescents and Peer Pressure ~ Teenagers have
various peer relationships, and they interact with many peer groups.
Some kids give in to peer pressure because they want to be liked, to
fit in, or because they worry that other kids may make fun of them
if they don't go along with the group. Others may go along
because they are curious to try something new that others are doing.
The idea that "everyone's doing it" may influence some kids to leave
their better judgment, or their common sense, behind. While
parents can't protect their children from experiencing peer
pressure, there are steps they can take to minimize its effects.
Confusion or Clarity? Youth Culture at the Crossroads
If we care about kids, where
they are, and where they're
got to look with them at the signposts that are catching their
attention and leading them along in life. They serve as
signposts for us as well, pointing the way to a land of crisis that
is in desperate need of spiritual relief aid. Here are three
troubling signposts -- all getting bigger, increasingly attractive,
and more effective by the minute.
Emotional and Social Development Between Ages 15 and 18 ~ In a
natural step from childhood to adulthood, teens begin to seek
intimate relationships, which become an important part of their
identity. Some teens' emotional investment in such relationships is
immense, which makes them vulnerable. Parents can help by
recognizing when relationships are getting more intense and by
talking openly, without judgment, about the possible future effects.
connecting? Characteristics of youth who form close online relationships
~ In this study, girls who had high levels of conflict with parents or were
highly troubled were more likely to have close online relationships, as were
boys who had low levels of communication with parents or were highly troubled.
Friendships, Peer Influence and Peer Pressure During the Teen Years
Friendships are very much an important aspect of the teen years.
Understanding the nature of peer influence can help support youth as they enter
into this period and follow the path towards close friendships that are
hallmarks of adolescence.
High School, Groups Provide Identity
~ Cliques and clubs have defined
school days for decades, providing a framework for friendships and prom dates
and booked weekends. But for parents, such groups have always seemed alien, and
counselors worry that the maze allows troubled children to mask loneliness and
Influential Friends ~
Advice on assessing peer influence and how to address concerns about friends
with your teen.
Your Teen on the Fringe?
~ Teens on the fringe feel
like they don't fit in. They move away from the comfort of
childhood friendships with hopes of joining ranks with a
difficult-to-penetrate new circle of friends (e.g., cheerleaders,
football team, popular kids). This can leave kids in limbo,
lacking significant friendships and feeling a deep sense of
loneliness. Those feelings can leave kids vulnerable to
high-risk behavior, such as
sexual activity, or
crime, which they perceive as their ticket to acceptance.
Peer Pressure and Risky Behavior ~ Teens choose their friends, because of
similar interests, or to make themselves more popular. Their peers influence
issues such as style and activities-the focus is on fitting in. Before deciding
to do something, teens often ask themselves, "what will my friends think?" This
does not mean their decisions are stupid. It means that there is a trade-off
between doing what one knows is right, and being accepted by peers.
The Power of Peers ~ Based on research findings, there are
ways for parents and other adults to accentuate the positive roles that peers
play in their children's lives, while at the same time remaining vigilant about
the harmful effects that some high-risk friends can have.
Teen Peer Pressure: Raising a Peer-Pressure-Proof Child
~ Learn what kinds of peer pressure teens face, whos most vulnerable, and how
to help your son or daughter resist.
Teens More Vulnerable to Peer Influences from Popular, Well-Liked Classmates
~ In this study, researchers found that teens were particularly likely to say
they would engage in aggressive and risky
behaviors if they believed they were in a chat room with highly
popular/liked adolescents who endorsed such behaviors. They also privately
internalized the aggressive and risky attitudes of highly popular/liked peers,
endorsing these attitudes even when their responses were no longer visible to
Teens must resist the lure of a pack instinct ~ In the face of peer
pressure, saying no to bullying and other abusive and violent acts demands
courage. The opposite of courage is conformity.