Peer pressure has a much greater effect on adolescent teens than any other factor. Think about it; your teen spends more of his/her waking hours with peers than family members. The interaction is direct, and much more powerful than the influence of teachers and other authority figures. Peer pressure tends to have more of an effect on children with low self esteem. If a child feels compelled to fit in, the teen may do things that go against his/her beliefs simply to be part of the group.
Peer pressure can lead to experimentation with drugs and alcohol, sex, skipping school, and various high risk behaviors. If you notice a sudden change in your child’s appearance, clothing, and attitude, especially if accompanied by secretive behavior, he or she may be succumbing to the influences of peers. You should especially be alert to sudden changes in the friends who make up their core peer group. An unexplained change in the type of friends your child associates with would indicate that your child is vulnerable to new influences that may not be positive.
How can parents who spend far less time with their children than do their peers, have an influence on their teens? Parents need to set clear expectations for behavior, establish rules about communicating where and with whom their teenagers are spending their time, and should pre-set consequences for lying about activities or where they are going. By communicating your expectations, your adolescent cannot claim they “did not know” you would be upset.
One of the most difficult issues can be when a teen decides to hang out with the “wrong crowd”. Parents often find it is difficult to control such behavior. They will lament that when they forbid their teen. Often by simply setting the rules about communicating their whereabouts, you will limit the effects of any peer group. However, if you really believe that a particular peer group is negatively impacting your child, it is important to deal with the reasons your teen is...