Tuesday, December 30, 2014

CONCERNING REACHING ADULTHOOD

The teenage years can be very difficult for many people. It is a rather awkward time in one’s life and the personality is forming from day to day. There are all types of pressures out there that teenagers can fall prey to and the day-to-day struggle of it all can be overwhelming to say the least. One of the important things for teenagers to do is to try and become comfortable with who they are. It’s a very difficult thing to do, especially in the face of others who may not accept you. The key is to promote individuality and at the same time, acceptance of others in teenagers. Should one be comfortable with who they are they will find the need to please others less and less important in their lives. Parents must take an active approach in trying to spend time with their teens and they must make it a point to help them become independent and autonomous individuals. Parents don’t have all the answers but they should make the effort of trying to guide their teens based on what they do know.

      

For teenagers themselves, it is important for them to realize that they can’t always please everyone. They need to become aware of the unpleasant reality that not everybody is going to like them. However, they should not feel discouraged by this as it is simply a fact of life. Going out of their way to try and gain the acceptance of others is often a lesson in futility so this should be pointed out to them. It is important for the teenager to feel unique and appreciate him or herself. Comparisons with others should be avoided because that will often lead to negative thinking. Being yourself is one of the hardest things you can do in this world but when you can do it the rewards are unlimited. You never have to feel as though you’ve compromised your individuality and you don’t have to worry about who your pleasing because those who really appreciate you won’t require the constant effort or reassurance.


Another thing that should be taught to teenagers is the importance of being honest and trying to do the right thing no matter how difficult it may be. By doing these things the teen will build a moral foundation from which he or she can always draw from in times of difficulty. Furthermore, honesty will go a lot further than dishonesty and deceit. It is essential that teens become aware of this because it will steer them through life. Teens should be taught to become independent and reliant on themselves because there are going to be times when you cannot rely on the help of others. It is imperative that a teen have some degree of autonomy and be able to negotiate the problems that must be decided on an individual level.  


PEER PRESSURE CONCERNING PEER BETRAYAL

An interesting scenario that makes teens susceptible to peer pressure can be the fear that his or her friends/peers will give them up or turn on them. This is a very unsettling feeling and it can lead to a teen being easily influenced by his or her fellow friends or peers. A teen who is uncertain of where they stand within their particular circle of friends or perhaps even with a single friend may find themselves as being the unwilling participant in certain activities just to hold onto friendships. If one is unsure of whether or not their friends accept them they will often try to appease their friends by giving in to their requests or in some cases demands. They will find themselves in the position of always being on the defensive but they will be unwilling to do anything about it. Very much like a person who gives in to his or her spouse to keep peace, a teen will often follow a friend or group of friends with little to no resistance for fear of losing them. The teen feels that keeping the friendship(s) intact takes precedent over many things when in actuality there isn’t a real friendship to begin with.


Sometimes the desire to please friends in a case like this is fear-driven. The teen may be somewhat intimidated by the prospect of going against his or her friends. They might even consider the possible ridicule or danger that may come with ending a friendship. This is when peer pressure can be at a very dangerous level and it can very well be considered a form of bullying. A teen who is being bullied by another teen who he or she associates with may feel that it is actually beneficial to them to keep this person around to feel safe from the bullying of others. The irony is that they fall victim to the bullying of the very person they have befriended for protection. In other cases, a teen may feel compelled to remain in an uncomfortable and pressure-driven friendship in order to avoid the wrath of that friend. The teen will constantly try to please the friend and secure their trust just to make sure that the friend won’t turn on them. For teens in particular, the fear of a former friend sharing your personal secrets with others out of retaliation is a scary thought. Knowing that someone who you have confided in will share your secrets with others will make a teen go to desperate measures to stay friends with that person despite obvious discomfort in the friendship.

Protecting one’s social identity seems to be at the forefront of the important teenage issues. Perhaps this is why teens will go so far to appease others. They don’t want to put themselves at risk for being ridiculed or made fun of. They will go so far as to remain allies with fellow peers who could do great damage to their reputation and in doing so, will compromise their own peace. The way to deal with this type of situation is to teach teenagers about what constitutes both good and bad friendships. It is important to point out to the teen that a friendship that faces the threat of dissolution is probably not a good friendship to have. Also, remaining friends with someone for supposed social benefits as opposed to actually liking and feeling comfortable around the person isn’t a good idea either. A friend who constantly puts you to the test and tries to impose their views on you is not a real friend at all and teens should be advised to steer clear of people like this. It is important that teens become familiar with the characteristics of a friendship that is driven by pressure and wanting to belong. Once they are familiar with this type of friendship the teen should be taught to use discretion in order to weigh the benefits of staying in such a relationship.


Furthermore, it is very important to point out to teens that real friends will be loyal to you regardless of differences. Those who make a friendship contingent on certain characteristics are not real friends at all. Constantly threatening to end a friendship is a type of manipulation, especially when the person making the threats is more popular. Teens should be aware that real friends don’t look to bail out of a friendship every time there is a problem. Instead, teens need to be taught that the pressure that comes with having to continuously prove him or herself to someone and give into peer pressure just isn’t worth the effort in the long run. There’s no point in trying to please someone who cannot be pleased and there’s absolutely no point in trying to please someone who doesn’t value your friendship.



PEER PRESSURE CONCERNING PARENTAL GUIDANCE



During the teenage years one’s personality is still forming. The period of time itself is commonly referred to as being the “formative years.” One can think about this time as being somewhat similar to a slab of clay. Different forces and influences are all at play in shaping the clay which in turn, becomes the product of each. Parents serve a vital function in the lives of teenage children because it is during this time period that teenagers are introduced to certain situations that they probably haven’t come across as of yet. Unfortunately, many factors prevent parents and their teenage sons and/or daughters from spending enough time with each other. Now there is no proper way to quantify how much time is enough but given the argument, we’ll just say that enough means the time required to really help teenagers come to terms with the difficulties of this time period. Conflicting schedules as well as teenagers feeling that it isn’t necessarily “cool” or “in” to spend time with their parents keep them passing like two ships in the night and this is where the problem arises.


When parents or guardians are not in the picture as influential figures, teenagers become more susceptible to peer pressure and this is only natural considering the fact that aside from their home, school is the other domain of social interaction. A teen who does not spend much time with his or her parents is more susceptible to the beliefs (and guidance) of his or her peers. There are situations in which teenagers become friends with others and share positive experiences rooted in a healthy friendship but there are also those situations in which teens who are lacking the proper guidance at home from their parents or guardians find themselves being led into troublesome situations. A teenager is interacting at all times whether it is with fellow peers, parents, television, computers, etc. They are constantly processing information and a significant amount of that information affects the person they become. 

The teenager who is not getting the proper guidance and advice from parents is getting it from someone and in many cases, that someone is causing detrimental effects. Teens will find themselves in a position where they need social interaction. If we are to believe that no man is an island than we must apply that to the case of a teenager who will go out of his or her way to be friends with someone to compensate for a lack of social interaction at home. Often times, the teenager will take part in illicit activities just to gain the acceptance of others. Knowing that they can find themselves being completely ostracized at both home and school if they don’t conform. 

Teenagers will resort to whatever it takes to maintain friendships whether they agree with it or not. They will willingly accept the beliefs of others and given the fact that they are so impressionable at this age, this can be a very dangerous thing. It is up to the parents or guardians of teenagers to serve as a moral compass of sorts and try to be there to point out what is right and wrong. It is easy for the parent/teenager relationship to slip through the cracks due to the aforementioned circumstances so it is imperative for the parent to make an effort to try and spend time with their child and try to point them in the right direction or at the very least, offer them insight on how they can do it on their own.
Parents must be willing to set boundaries and enforce certain rules pertaining to what they feel is in the best interest of their children. 

A teen’s personality is still very much a work in progress so it is up to the parents to exercise their better judgment and put it into play. Parents should let their teenage son or daughter know that they can talk to them whenever they need to and about whatever they want. The parent must make themselves accessible to the teen or else risk the repercussions that may come as the result of the latter giving into peer pressure. It is up to the parent to help guide the teenager and make them aware of the potential difficulties that they will face during these years. The parent should try and help the teenager differentiate when peer pressure is steering them in the wrong direction and when it may be socially acceptable. At the same time, the parent can help the teen determine on their own whether or not the people he or she is associating with are worthwhile friends.



CONCERNING WANTING ACCEPTANCE

Wanting to be accepted by others is a phenomenon that is not limited to any age group. It spans the entire life cycle. However, for teens, it can be a matter of social life and death. The social landscape in both middle schools and high schools consists of having certain “cliques” or groups of students who associate with each other based on certain characteristics, ideas, activities, etc. There is a hierarchical structure to these cliques that is measured by popularity and the concept of peer pressure can surface in any type of clique regardless of where it ranks in the structure. For teens, to be part of a more popular clique can be a matter of status. Obviously hanging out with a certain group of people who are quite popular has its social benefits.


A teen who wants to become a member of a particular clique may be susceptible to peer pressure because they might go to great lengths just to join and perhaps even greater lengths to maintain their place within the clique once they have gotten in. Even those who have been a part of a certain clique for an extended period of time find themselves trying to please their fellow peers just to prove their worthiness to the clique. Peer pressure can be extremely detrimental at this point because the  status of belonging to a certain clique or social group is something that a teenager is often unwilling to give up. This phenomenon can also be applied to gang culture.

Consider the plight of a teenager who desperately wants to be a gang member and is willing to commit heinous crimes to prove themselves. Similar to the clique, once the teenager is officially a gang member he or she will many times cave into pressure from fellow gang members to continue to commit crimes regardless of how they feel on the matter. When one wants to fit in to any social group they will adapt to the group’s rules and regulations and follow the ideology of the group and many times without so much as questioning it at all. Teenagers will dress a certain way, associate with certain people, listen to a particular type of music, hang out at certain places, and give up old friends just to be a part of a group.

Many times if they are to question these things they will find themselves under attack and questioned by other group members. In essence, their identity becomes contingent upon what fellow group members think of them and with this being the case, it is easy to see how peer pressure can cause them to do things that they may not have otherwise done in their lives. The desire to fit in for a teenager is very strong because isolation is the bane of teenage existence. Popularity aside, teenagers want to be able to associate with others to avoid being alone. This makes them quite prone to the dangers of peer pressure.

Not having any group of friends is almost like being in exile for a teenager. A teen who is at the risk of not having any friends will try very hard to please others in order to be accepted. There are even times when this teen’s peers will remind him or her of the specter of not having any friends to convince them to conform. It is a very difficult situation because the teenager finds themselves in the position of having to choose to act a certain way just to belong or to be alone. 

No teenager wants to find themselves in this position but it is quite common. There are ways to deal with this type of scenario. First of all, it is important to help the teen understand that there are people out there who will accept them for who they are and those who are unwilling to do so aren’t worth the trouble of being around. One needn’t have to prove themselves to other people just to feel wanted. Teens are put in this position all the time and it can be very tiring for them. They need to know that real friendships don’t require constant effort and that they shouldn’t have to give in to the demands or requests of friends just to maintain the friendship.

Quite the contrary, teens should be taught that real friends should accept them the way they are and respect the decisions they make. Real friends will not put you to the test all the time and question your loyalty the moment you disagree with something. It’s also important for teenagers to become familiar with the fact that people who pressure them into acting or thinking in certain ways are not the type of people they should want to be around. It requires too much effort.


The key here is to point out the advantages and disadvantages of associating with certain people. A teen needs to be aware that he or she may be cheating themselves out of a more comfortable situation with others by conforming just to fit in with a certain group of people. The teen should be aware of the risk of losing their individuality for the sake of belonging as well. It is important to help the teenager realize that he or she is a unique individual that doesn’t need to forfeit that uniqueness just to please others.


Instead of becoming friends with a certain group of people to attain status teens should be taught to be more selective of whom they associate with based on what will make them feel most comfortable and ultimately become more productive. It must be emphasized that belonging to a certain group isn’t as important as it may seem at the time. Sure there is the issue of status and popularity but the real lesson that teenagers must be taught is that those things really aren’t that important at the end of the day. The most important thing is that they feel comfortable enough within their own skin to realize that they don’t need to be a part of a certain group just to feel validated.




PEER PRESSURE CONCERNING SELF CONFIDENCE


It is often the case that a teenager with a lack of confidence becomes enmeshed in a situation in which they find themselves living their lives according to a set of standards that their peers have drawn out for them. Now granted, there may be an overlap between low self-esteem and a lack of confidence but for this particular case the distinction will be that the teen’s self-esteem is dependent of whether or not they have confidence in themselves. A teenager may very well have positive regard for themselves and display confidence in many situations. However, the pressure of going along with the group or conforming to a greater belief may often prove to be a daunting task for anyone let alone someone with little confidence. There are teens that are fortunate enough to have the ability to go against the grain when it comes to peer pressure. Many of them are so confident in their own beliefs and standards that they are able to rebuff the ideas of their peers even in the face of certain ridicule or rejection.


Unfortunately, there are those who cannot apply the self-confidence that they use in other situations to being able to stand alone when it comes to peer pressure. Even worse is the possibility that a teen has very little confidence in all types of situations. This would make them particularly vulnerable to peer pressure. How can they possibly find themselves willing to go against a group of people when they aren’t even confident enough to take a firm stand against one person. Their overall lack of confidence will often lead them to conceding a point when in actuality, their logic or reasoning is very sound. A teen may feel strongly about a particular subject and may have sound logic in regards to it but the inability to bring it forth is where the battle is lost. If you have something meaningful to say it becomes academic if you are unable to say it because you lack the confidence to do so. The pressure of peers will lead the teenager with little confidence in him or herself to cave in more often than not.

A teenager with no confidence will often find themselves overly reliant on the opinions and perhaps even instructions of others. As an independent personality they find themselves being stifled by more confident personalities. They are unwilling to stand alone due to the simple fact that they lack the confidence to do so. They will go along with what others say and avoid contradicting them at all costs. They will try to maintain the status quo and will blend in to any situation in order to mask their lack of confidence in themselves, which is rather ironic considering that the very act of blending in indicates a low degree of individuality. Problems occur as the teen with little to no confidence will find themselves being compromised due to their lack of confidence.

They will find themselves in uncomfortable positions and in many instances their inability to speak up will augment their frustration because they are keenly aware of the discrepancy between what they are doing and what they would rather be doing. In other cases, their lack of confidence in themselves is replaced by a pseudo-confidence that comes from going along with others and conforming. Knowing that others accept them gives them a false sense of confidence in themselves because the truth is that others have accepted the image and personality they have set forth rather than the true beliefs that they have suppressed. Had the person actually showed a more defiant side and contradicted the status quo they might not have gained the acceptance of their fellow peers.


In regards to the interplay between one’s lack of confidence and peer pressure, the technique to combat this is rooted in confidence-building. Teens should be taught to be self-confident and to hold onto their beliefs as long as they do not compromise their own integrity and safety or that of others. Teens need to place a heavy emphasis on believing in themselves no matter what others might think or say. This could very well be the deciding factor that helps to fight peer pressure. If one is confident in themselves they should be taught to be confident all across the board. By this, it is meant that should they be able to spot detrimental peer pressure they should become familiar with the ways to battle it. Being confident in actively expressing one’s disagreement with a certain situation should be stressed as is sticking to your beliefs regardless of the resistance one faces.


A teen with confidence is a teen that can see through the emptiness of trying to please others and at the same time, convey that belief through confident and candid expression. Furthermore, helping develop confidence in teenagers allows them to become more autonomous in the future. If they possess the confidence in themselves to stand up for what they believe in and avoid conformity at the expense of themselves they will be able to ward off peer pressure with greater ease. In addition, they fortify their beliefs in the process and become even more confident of them as they are put to the test. Teens must try to become confident in their thinking and decision-making because it is crucial to their ability to negotiate this very difficult time in their lives. It is important to stress confidence in oneself from an early age and at the same time the confidence that things will work out in life if it is applied correctly. In conclusion, just as teens should be confident in their ability to avoid the people that aren’t necessarily right for them, they should be confident in their ability to find those who are.



PEER PRESSURE CONCERNING LOW SELF ESTEEM

Having low self-esteem can often put a teenager in the position of being susceptible to peer pressure. Self-esteem is generally regarded as being an appraisal of one’s overall self-worth and those who typically have a low appraisal of themselves may find themselves prone to relenting to the pressure of their fellow peers. Teenagers with low self-esteem tend to focus on the negative aspects of themselves as opposed to the more positive qualities of their personalities. They generally have very little regard for themselves and will often feel unworthy of being loved and accepted by others. A teenager with low self-esteem may end up making his or her self-esteem contingent upon a particular set of circumstances such as success in school or an activity of some sorts. Their self-esteem becomes contingent on the success or failure that they experience in what it is they are putting all their efforts into.


The teen with low self-esteem finds him or herself particularly vulnerable to the pressure that peers will so often apply to them. Their self-esteem (or lack thereof) will in many cases ensure that they cannot properly combat this pressure. Take for example, a teenager with low self-esteem that belongs to a group of friends. This teen’s self-esteem may very well be contingent upon how he or she feels that the group views them. Unfortunately, without the foundation of positive regard for oneself, the teenager finds him or herself being in the unenviable position of constantly trying to prove themselves to the other members. The lines between what is right and wrong may become blurred as the teenager with low self-esteem may find themselves doing things that they otherwise would not have done just to gain the approval of the group. For the most part, the focus here is on legal activities such as dressing a certain way, hanging out with certain people as opposed to hanging out with others, or behaving in a certain way that is acceptable according to the group. However, there are cases in which the teen with low self-esteem will participate in illegal activities just to gain further acceptance.


Having low self-esteem can overshadow their better judgment in these cases because their self-esteem is so reliant on what the group thinks of them. Female teens may find themselves in situations in which they give in to otherwise unwanted sexual advances but lack of the self-esteem to say no. Other behaviors such as drug or alcohol use or in some cases, committing crimes are often carried out by both males and females alike because they are so willing to please others in order to be accepted and feel better about themselves. The teen with low self-esteem simply does not have the belief in him or herself to call their own activities into question. They might feel so strongly about belonging to a particular peer group that they are willing to do just about anything to join it or remain in it.


It can be assumed that this type of person can find him or herself being taken advantage of quite often within the group. The stronger personalities of the group may be able to spot this person’s lack of self-esteem and play to it for their own ends. Knowing that they can successfully manipulate the person or convince them of something with little to no resistance will almost assuredly lead them to do it again and again. At the same time, the teenager with low self-esteem will constantly be put to the test and will most likely willingly accept whatever it is that they are being told whether it is to adopt a certain way of thinking or to actively do something. Their self-worth depends on their place in the group. Perhaps to the point where it will decrease even further should they no longer find themselves as being a member.


The way to combat this would be to work on the teenager’s self-esteem and try to stress that it doesn’t have to be related so much to the way others perceive them as much as it is to how they perceive themselves. It is important for a teen with low self-esteem to be able to focus on the positive aspects of their lives. It is necessary to remind the teen that they are a worthy individual and that they don’t have to go out of their way to impress others in order to feel better about themselves. The key is to build a foundation within the teenager that allows them to feel good about themselves. In other words, if you help the teen feel better about themselves and help them deal more successfully with their shortcomings they won’t find themselves in the position where they have to validate their self-worth by proving themselves to others. It’s almost as if you are fine-tuning their sense of individuality. A person who believes in themselves and realizes that they possess positive qualities will be more equipped to recognize instances in which they may be facing peer pressure.


It is important to ensure that the mindset of the teen shifts from negative thinking to a more positive, accepting regard for themselves. When this shift occurs the teenager will have a backbone on which to draw from when peer pressure surfaces. They will feel more worthy and in turn, face it with more confidence. No longer will they have to give in to what others are telling them because they will have the awareness of knowing that their self-worth as an individual doesn’t have to be dependent on the opinions of others.