There’s no doubt that peer pressure has acquired a bad reputation over the years. That’s understandable given the innumerable accounts bad vices in youth have sprouted from running with the wrong crowd. But there’s more to the surface than meets the eye. Peer pressure is useful. It can also be a great motivator to do good given the circumstance.
Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has set the stage for some of these commendable acts. There are many stories about how positive peer pressure has become instrumental in keeping everyone in line. On the other end of the spectrum, you can actually help ready your kids to resist the negative effects of peer pressure, with the right tools in mind.
Positive Peer Pressure to the Rescue
In light of all the misery, it’s hard to believe that positive peer pressure can shine during these days. The coronavirus that to date has infected over 30 million people all over the world seems to be unstoppable. And as the death toll skyrockets, keeping emotions in check and things in order can easily become an uphill climb.
America, long hailed as the most powerful nation on the planet, is reeling. Unable to contain the advance of the invisible enemy that is the virus, the number of deaths has risen to over 200 thousand. Imagining how much sorrow that has brought to every American family is beyond words.
For one, behavioral scientists have warned every government on the planet that sticking to the rules would become a struggle the longer the virus is contained.
Still, multiple studies have shown that when positive reinforcement is present, such as someone washing their hands in the bathroom following COVID-19 protocols, the tendency of people to follow is high.
For starters, an American study on women hand-washing in university bathrooms revealed that coed students had a greater tendency to wash their hands when other people are present (91%) compared to when such women were on their own (55%).
Another study shows that when there’s more visibility, such as in highly visible areas in hospital settings, handwashing is observed more than in unmonitored areas.
Social influence has even been found to be helpful via patient empowerment. When patients make it a point to pressure hospital staff, ethical awareness such as handwashing protocols picks up. All these studies were featured recently in the American Journal of Infection Control.
Teaching Your Kids the ABCs of Handling Negative Peer Pressure
Indeed, positive peer pressure has brought a lot of wonderful things to the table. It’s no accident positive reinforcement has been employed to the hilt in schools to help underperforming students excel. Moreover, it has formed the backbone in helping recovering drug dependents get their lives back in centers for rehabilitation.
Then again, as you may have realized by now, not all peer pressure is positive. Alcohol abuse is one fine example where America’s youth has been lost. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the government body that has monitored COVID-19 more than any, reveals that for young Americans age 12 to 20, alcohol is the most widely abused substance.
While alcohol drinking may not be considered risky compared to drugs, it has ruined many young American lives needlessly. In 2013 alone, about 119,000 emergency room visits by youth age 12 to 21 were made, with over 3,500 deaths. Economy-wise, alcohol-influenced youths have caused about $24 billion in damages to society.
One of the major contributing factors to alcohol abuse among the young is peer pressure—negative peer pressure to be exact. Teaching your child to handle the ugly side of peer pressure early on should be timely. Here are three quick ways to go about it:
- Teach your child to refuse and say no. All peer pressure comes down to is giving consent to someone who may not have your child’s best interest. By allowing your child to choose between two options and say no to one, you empower them to do the same when they’re already a grown-up. Starting them young is therefore key. Alternatively, you can have older kin help your child establish their decision.
- Highlight the advantages of being apart from the crowd. The key to standing up to negative peer pressure is realizing that there are distinct advantages when people don’t always go with the tide. Cite great men who went against normal thinking, establishing themselves in the process. A good example is Albert Einstein who established his own rules of science in spite of long-established norms. Another good example is Copernicus or Galileo. They were both great men who proved that Earth is not the center of the universe as we know it.
- Believe in your child. The majority of substance abuse in America started in unstable, chaotic homes. When a young one sees their home as dysfunctional and does not value their presence, their confidence drops.
Make sure that you see the good side of your child. After all, you are the first best example of what a good peer should be.