It's only natural for you to worry that your teen is being influenced by what his or her friends say and do. The problem for teens is that they usually feel like they are being pulled in opposing directions -- their parents vs. their friends. In the process of developing their own identities, maturing adolescents don't always find it easy to please their parents, especially when they are trying to impress their friends at the same time.

The teen years are challenging and stressful for parents and adolescents both, yet the American Psychological Association points out that most parents succeed in helping their children become more responsible and less dependent on them. However, in learning how to have a more positive impact on your child's behavior, it helps to understand in what ways peer pressure can influence your teen.

Role of Individuality

While kids need positive role models in their lives to look up to, their own strengths and weaknesses play key roles in whether or not they succeed in what they do. Individuality counts; it's what makes people who they are.

You may be surprised to learn that your teen doesn't want to be one of the crowd. If you've been successful at building your child's self-confidence, your teen may actually prefer to be his or her own unique self instead of conforming to the attitudes and behaviors of the "in" group at school. Being different from everybody else takes courage; therefore, you must be doing something right.

Role of Competition

The nature of competitive peer pressure can motivate teens to be the best they can be. Because kids need opportunities to show what they can do, competition often pushes them harder to maximize their potential. However, creating opportunities that help your child to succeed is different from pushing your child.

The rewards of success also offer teens valuable incentives for working together with others. Being part of a team shows young people how they stand a better chance of accomplishing a common goal they otherwise might not be able to achieve on their own.

Role of Negative Influences

It may sound odd, but negative peer pressure can have a positive impact on your teen's life. For one thing, the will to overcome negative influences may motivate your teen to take action. Your teen can be a positive role model to others by standing up for what he or she believes. However, children need to understand that being a good role model means showing respect for others who might not share the same opinions and values as they do.

Role of Communication

Although you work hard to reinforce responsible behavior in your teen, the fact is that kids are subjected to all kinds of influences throughout their growing-up years. If you're worried about the effects of peer pressure on your teen, it's important for the two of you to communicate openly with each other. Keep in mind that honest communication includes listening to what your teen has to say.

Don't get angry about anything your teen tells you. Instead, teach your teen responsibility by modeling responsible behavior yourself. Role modeling serves to influence your teen and build a stronger relationship between you. Show your teen how by building trust, other people can rely on you.

While teenagers need their parents' guidance as they learn to make their own choices, they still need to be allowed the opportunities to turn both the positive and negative influences in their lives into rewarding growth experiences. Whether or not teens believe in themselves and in what they can do help determine the effect outside influences may have on their lives.

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