Peer pressure


Teenager with hoodie on back to frontIt's as inevitable as night follows day that as your teenager gets older, he or she will begin to prefer spending time with their friends. And as time goes on, that instinct will get stronger and stronger. It's at this time that peer pressure really starts to take hold. Friends matter more than family - a bit more at first, and then suddenly a whole lot more.

Try to understand: it's not about rejection. Well, it is about rejection but there's a reason for it. Young people have to develop their capacity to make strong bonds outside the family - learning to do this is a critical task of adolescence. It's as vital a developmental stage as pulling herself up on the furniture was during toddlerhood.

Learning how to handle adult relationships will determine how successful they are in their intimate relationships, in their working relationships, and in their friendships throughout life. And it all starts here, in teenage friendship. 

How to deal with friends who are bad influences

"My sister-in-law went to one of the best schools in the country. Her peers may have all been ambitious but most were also anorexic and they certainly egged each other on in the pursuit of physical perfection. It was horrific." artichokes

The biggest problem comes when your child's peer group doesn't look like the sort of people you want him/her to be friendly with. You then start to notice behaviour you disapprove of; and you think of his/her new friend(s) as 'a bad influence'.

Be very, very careful if this happens. Your instinct might be to criticise the friend(s), and to do all you can to shift them further away. But the problem is that the stronger you disapprove of the friends, the more attractive they will be to your son or daughter. The wise mum bites her tongue; but no-one said it was going to be easy. 

One Mumsnetter advises: "You can't stop this happening, all you can do is what you have done so well so far - be supportive, but be clear that if she makes decisions against the advice of experienced, successful adults around her, then she has to take the responsibility for the consequences."

Last updated: almost 2 years ago