That Pesky Peer Pressure
Okay, confession time. When I was in 4th grade, I wore my fancy new Izod shirt to school on the first day. I was so proud of it until I realized that no one else was wearing Izod shirts; they were wearing Polo. I felt incredibly uncool, so I had my mom cut the Izod crocodile icons off of all of my Izod shirts. I would have had her sew on Polo icons had we had any. To make a long story short: the next day I went back to school and lots of people had Izods on. So did I, but now my Izod no longer had the crocodile on it. Aah peer pressure.
Regardless if it’s real or implied, to 4th grade me, and to your daughter, it seems like the end of the world. The most powerful force of nature. When your daughter is struggling to find herself and craft an identity that is uniquely hers in the sea of adolescence, it is very easy for her to look to her peers to find an anchor.
If your daughter has great friends that are positive role models, then your job may be easy. But even good kids can make bad choices. After all, teens are known for making risky decisions. It’s not their fault exactly – it’s their brains. Our brains are not fully developed until we’re 25. In the teen years, the brain functions a bit differently than it does when we’re adults. Namely, even though teens know what the risks might be of doing something they know they are not supposed to do (e.g., taking their first sip of alcohol, trying a cigarette with their friends), the reward of doing the act will almost always outweigh the risks in the mind of a teen. PBS did a great special on the teenage mind last year. I highly recommend it if you haven’t watched it: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/teenbrain/.
In the meantime, check out these websites for tips on helping your kids deal with peer pressure and helping you deal with them:
Stayed tuned for next week’s topic: How to Deal with Bullies