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  • Writer's pictureJUT

Fitting In

Peer Pressure:

‘The ​strong ​influence of a ​group, ​especially of ​children, on ​members of that ​group to ​behave as everyone ​else does.’

In this modern world, children are under so much pressure to fit in. To be honest, this is really old news… So why am writing about it? Well because it needs addressing and re-addressing. I am sure every parent reading this has a child/children who has experienced peer pressure at least once. If you have and are willing to share in the comment box below, it would be nice to hear about how you managed the situation.

Back to the blog… After conducting a brief research online, it appears we all have a desire to belong and in order to gain that sense of belonging, we try to ‘fit it’. There is an interesting blog by Dr Susan Biali, titled ‘Stop Trying to Fit in, Aim to Belong’, which provides an insight to the difference between fitting in and belonging (See link below in the reference section). One of the reasons why we stress ourselves in trying to fit in is due to peer pressure. Here are two main ways to describe peer pressure:

Indirect (Passive) peer pressure is being influenced indirectly, perhaps by listening to a conversation or observing others. This type of peer pressure is not usually obvious.

Direct (Active) pressure is a clear statement, command or instruction by another.

As a parent, teacher, carer or any other adult in regular contact with children, I would image it is somewhat easier to advice our younger ones to ‘just say no’ to any form of direct pressure from their peers. I think it’s safe to say we have all experienced *insert child’s name here* coming home from school and asking for the latest clothing, footwear, toy or gadget simply because his/her friend at school has one. In these situations, I find myself responding by repeating what was said to me when I was a child, “If *insert name of child* jumped into the fire, would you jump too?” By the time we have reached this point of the conversation, the child usually stops to think or stops asking altogether. Humour aside, there may be instances where the pressure is quite negative and therefore the child needs further help to deal with pressure such as drink, drugs, sex etc… Here is one of several websites which can provide further information and advice if needed:

Indirect pressure can also be difficult to handle. For example, more and more young girls are wearing make-up and it is suggested that a big reason behind this is peer pressure.

In the survey, carried out by online retailer, more girls than ever are starting to wear make-up from the age of 11 - three years younger than it was a decade ago.

Peer pressure from friends and older sibling are being blamed as the main cause, with 34% of the women surveyed citing "classroom politics" as the reason young girls are reaching for make-up, according to the Telegraph. {Lauren Smith, Glamour}

I have a 16 year old daughter and I know how difficult the peer pressure is in regards to wearing make-up because, despite there being a ban in place at school, the majority of girls still wear more make than I do on my average day. So how do we prevent our children from succumbing to peer pressure? One of the fundamental ways I have found to help is to build up the self-confidence of my children. Empowering our children to recognise that they are individuals, with differences, talents, beauty and purpose, goes a long way to helping them find the courage to stand tall and say ‘no’, even if it means standing on their own.

I have also realised that we are in a better position to empower our children and help them to build their self-confidence, if we are confident in who we are as parents. You see, peer pressure is not restricted to children. As adults we are also susceptible to external pressure, which can influence us and prevent us from discovering who we really are. For example, growing up in this country as both Nigerian and British, I found there was so much peer pressure to either be ‘Nigerian’ or to be ‘British’ because for some reason or another, people from either side couldn’t quite comprehend the two blending in together. It was quite a struggle at times, but I later realised that for me, trying to fit solely into one group, was not allowing me to be me. Even as an adult, I still get teasing remarks, however, I have long since built up my self confidence in that area and so I am able to simply continue being me (a good blend of both cultures).

So, let’s listen to, talk to, encourage and empower our children.

Thank you for reading. Please do leave your comment below and share this blog if you like it.

Once again, leave your contact details if you would like further help or information on any of the above.


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