Children, especially during adolescence, begin to spend a lot more time with their friends, and less time with their family. This makes them more susceptible to the influences of their peers. It is important to remember that teenage friends can have a positive influence on your children, you should therefore help them find friends that have similar interests and views as those you are trying to develop in your children, including doing well in school, having respect for others, and avoiding drug use, smoking and drinking, etc.

During adolescence, children practice risk taking behaviors as they are trying to find their own identity and become more independent. This makes them very vulnerable to experimenting or becoming addicted to using drugs and drinking, especially if there is peer pressure to do so. Children who use drugs are also more likely to practice unprotected sex at an earlier age, have low self esteem, behavior problems, school performance problems, and depression.

It is very important to communicate with your child to help minimize their being susceptible to negative influences and prevent them from picking up bad habits. Teenagers whose parents talk to them regularly are at much less risk for experimenting with cigarettes, drinking and drugs. Teach them how to avoid situations where drug use, drinking, or smoking are present and to minimize negative influences by choosing friends who also choose not to use these substances. You have a lot more positive influence over your children's choices, even when you are not physically around, then you think.

Other ways to minimize the influences of negative peer influences is to help him/her to have high self esteem, confidence, a sense of self worth, and to feel needed and loved by their friends and family.

A lot of the peer pressure that your adolescent children will be exposed to and be influenced by relates to external things, such as clothing and hair styles, taste in music, etc. It is not always important to insist that your child conform to your own ways of thinking, especially when it relates to these less important issues. If your children are doing well in school, are not using drugs, drinking, or smoking and you are not having serious behavior problems, then it may be worthwhile to ignore some of these less important issues as your child tries to find her own identity. Creating power struggles over these issues are unlikely to change their attitudes and will likely create more problems.

There are other negative influences on your children, including the Interent, television, movies, video games, books, etc. You should monitor very closely what your adolescents are exposed to, to minimize the negative influences these things may have on them.

You should talk with your child if you think she is being negatively influenced by her peers to drink, smoke or experiment with drug use. Or you can set up an appointment with a medical professional with experience in dealing with adolescents with this problem. This professional can be your Pediatrician, a psychologist, counselor or someone else that your child can build a relationship with to talk about her problems.

“The New Beginning”

  For teenagers, it can seem very important to "fit in."  
Teens are   very concerned about their images, and
they are worried about what others think about them. 
As a result, peer pressure is very influential in many
teens' lives. Peer pressure is basically the influence 
that people your age have on you. For teenagers, it is
the influence that other teens have on their behavior, 
dress, attitude and practices. Often, teenagers do
what others are doing so that they can fit in - or at  
least not stand out. Teens like to do what their
friends are doing, and be accepted. This peer
pressure, though, can lead to undesirable behaviors.

Statistics on peer pressure

  There are some startling statistics about peer
  pressure, and what teenagers feel pressured to do. 
  Here are some statistics about peer pressure:

The Adolescent Substance Abuse Knowledge Base    reports that right around 30% of teens are offered 
drugs in middle school and high school.

According to the National Household Survey on Drug 
Use and Health from the U.S. Department of Health 
and Human Services, 74.3% of high school students
have tried alcohol.
  3.1 million teenagers smoke, according to the  
  American Lung Association.

The Kaiser Foundation reports that about 50% of 
teenagers feel pressured with regard to sex in 

You can see that the pressure is on to engage in 
behaviors that may not be healthy, physically or 
emotionally, for your teenager. It is vitally important
that you help your teenager develop the self 
confidence to withstand peer pressure, and make
his or her own decisions.

How parents can combat peer pressure

There is always going to be a certain amount of   
bowing to peer pressure. Teens naturally want to 
project the "right" image. However, you can reduce
the influence that peer pressure has on your 
teenagers by making the following moves:

    1-  Open lines of communication:   Teenagers    
            are afraid to come to those who are
            judgmental or who will subject  them to

     2-  Have clear expectations: Start when your
           children are young to have clear
           expectations or their behavior.

    3-  Know their friends.

     4-  Be involved: Show your teen that you care.

     5-  Talk about the issues.

     6-  Pick your battles: Understand that some
          things are less important than others.

In the end, you need to encourage your teen to  
choose good riends who will be supportive of them.  
And you need to help your teenagers withstand peer 
pressure by providing a safe support system.