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Peer Pressure and Teenagers

For those of us who have grown out of adolescence and have moved on to the wonderful world of adulthood, replete with its responsibilities, peer pressure as teenagers experience it, is (hopefully) a thing of the past. The reality that peer pressure is perhaps the most stressful thing about being a teenager is very apparent.

As your child moves beyond his or her dependence on mom and dad, peers become an important part of their development. Your child starts to choose his or her own friends, and those people whom your child has chosen harness a huge influence over your child's decisions and choices.

According to an article from the Wall Street Journal, facing the influence of friends is a major step in becoming adult-thinkers. This article also says that not all peer pressure is negative, as the stigma might suggest. In fact, it might spur teenagers to study harder, eat better, and other positive things.

However, the influence of parenting should not be underestimated. As the article states, authoritative parenting, or "warm parenting with strict boundaries" is associated with children who are strong independent thinkers.

There are plenty of things parents can do to help their teenagers deal with peer pressure:

  • Assess friends. It's okay to express your opinions about your teenager's friends. Do it out of love and respect.

  • Create an open channel of communication. Talk to your teenager about who he hangs out with. Become interested in what your teenager is interested in.

  • Set rules. Yes, your teenager may think you're zapping her freedom, but ultimately they will give your teen a stable framework for understanding the world.

This not an exhaustive list, and dealing with peer pressure is very subjective. Ultimately, create a dialogue with your teenager. Start when they are young, and that will make a world of difference.

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