Peer Pressure

Any influence of our peer group i.e. friends, cousins, acquaintances, to conform to certain behaviors/lifestyles in order to fit in is referred to as Peer Pressure. During teenage, our peer group values and attitudes tend to influence more strongly than family values. Adolescence is the time when a person is most susceptible to peer pressure because friends become an important influence on behavior during adolescence. Peer pressure has been called a hallmark of the adolescent experience.

Peer pressure is not just limited to adolescents; even adults face peer pressure and tend to give in. “Log Kya Kahenge” (What Will People Say) in an Indian context is perhaps the most widely acceptable, indirect and insidious form of peer pressure. It is often used as a tool of shame and fear to conform to a certain standard of behavior, consequently impacting mental health. This form of peer pressure does not let the person make choices about career, passion, dressing style and even life partners. When we constantly make choices we are not willing for it brings a sense of unhappiness and discontentment in our lives. It can be a source of major stress, indifferences in the family, failure of relationship, burnouts at work leading to poor mental health and quality of life. The pressure to fit in with the norms of society and culture is always accompanied with this fear of what people are going to talk about you. There is a feeling of guilt for those who do not conform and do not give in to this fear. Guilt is another aspect of this form of peer pressure for those who try to say NO to it.

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The reason as to why people give in to peer pressure can be amongst the following:

  • To gain a sense of belongingness:

    They want to be liked and appreciated. This can go up to the level of making compromises to fit into the group.

  • Fear of standing out:

    They worry that others might make fun of them or think that they are different if they don't go along with the group.

  • Experimenting:

    They are curious to try something new that others are doing. They don’t want to feel left out in terms of experiences and personal connections.

Peer pressure in teenagers is most pronounced with respect to style, taste, appearance, ideology, and values. Adolescents might take up activities like drinking, smoking, drug use, dating in order to be accepted. These activities are considered part of a group characteristic and hence they feel they need to learn to do these so as to be a part of the group. The flip side to this is that in the process we may lose our individuality.

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EFFECTS OF PEER PRESSURE

Peer pressure can also have positive effects when youth leading toward positive behavior and altruistic acts, such as volunteering for a charity or excelling in academics.

  • Positive Effect:

    Peer pressure nowadays seems to have taken a positive role in our society especially when we talk about fields such as fitness, nutrition, reading books and novels, watching intellectual movies and T.V. series. It can motivate people towards kindness, compassion, altruistic behaviors, the regularity with school and indulging in healthy physical activities.

  • Negative Effect:

    Negative consequences of peer pressure include agreeing on harmful habits and attitudes like junk eating, smoking, substance use, indulging in immoral acts such as lying, bullying, excessive buying in order to fit into the peer group. Unspoken peer pressure has a significant role in substance use. A study conducted in 2012 published in a Journal of Drug abuse shows passive peer pressure has greater impact on teen smoking than the direct, active pressure.

    Peer pressure
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HOW COUNSELING CAN HELP?

  • Counseling will help you to learn to say NO while respecting the rights of others.
  • Facilitate understanding the negative beliefs and helps in challenging it.
  • Equip you to resolve a conflict that can arise due to peer pressure and one’s personal beliefs and values.
  • Empower to achieve your potential and have more self-confidence for the person you are.
  • aving clarity of our own core values and beliefs.
  • Confiding into a trusted adult.
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Session Structure

SESSION STRUCTURE

  • Exploring the Concern:

    To understand concern relating to peer pressure, a genuine therapeutic relationship is established. You can be facing issues relating to adjustment in school, college or workplace which could be a result of peer pressure. The counselor very sensitively tries to bring out how the concern has developed in the first few sessions. For many, it might have begun before the individual even realized it. Various details about the situation are explored in-depth.

  • Understanding Root Cause:

    The counselor explores what are the fears, insecurities, and challenges due to which you are giving in to peer pressure. There are usually certain needs not being met otherwise in a person’s life that makes him or her more vulnerable to peer pressure. Here the emphasis is given on the environment at school, college or workplace, as well as at home; whether it is empowering or conforming.

  • Assessing Impact:

    To understand what is the intensity of peer pressure and how is it impacting them personally and their relationship with others. Hearing out the concern from the individual to understand how a situation has affected the individual emotionally, mentally and physically.

  • Group dynamics:

    Since peer pressure is a group phenomenon it is important to understand the dynamics of the group you are part of. In the session, the individual can gain insight into their relationship with friends, their role and responsibilities, patterns that keep them stuck, feelings that prevent them from saying no to peer requests.

  • Group dynamics:

    Since peer pressure is a group phenomenon it is important to understand the dynamics of the group you are part of. In the session, the individual can gain insight into their relationship with friends, their role and responsibilities, patterns that keep them stuck, feelings that prevent them from saying no to peer requests.

  • Interventions for overcoming peer pressure:

    The therapist helps the individual by giving them a few tools on how they can be more assertive and communicate about their values and beliefs. Assertiveness training, priority setting, confidence building, and boundary setting are the major techniques involved in therapy.

  • Reflecting & Implementing on The Session:

    The self-work is quite important, as the individual needs to implement the understanding and insights by themselves. The tasks assigned in sessions serve as a catalyst for noticing a change.

  • Potential Challenges/Progress:

    Since peer pressure is a group phenomenon it is important to understand the dynamics of the group you are part of. In the session, the individual can gain insight into their relationship with friends, their role and responsibilities, patterns that keep them stuck, feelings that prevent them from saying no to peer requests.

  • Follow up:

    The follow-ups are required to see how the individual is doing post-therapy. It allows us to keep a tab on the progress and prevent relapse.

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