ANY ADULT who is a parent today is acutely aware of the pressures they went through when they were growing up. Depending on where you grew up and the kind of friends you had, coupled with the parental supervision you had from home, you either gave in to pressure or restrained yourself. If you grew up in a neighborhood or surroundings prone to petty rivalry or substance abuse, you probably were tempted to partake in these vices. If you had bad company and always hanged around with bad characters, chances are that you picked some of their bad habits. Why was this so? The answer is peer pressure. Adolescent peer pressure comes in different forms, but in its simple form it’s the act of one or more children forcing another to engage in illicit activities that may be dangerous or unhealthy to them. Example include smoking and beer drinking, fornicating, stealing and all those acts that are not beneficial to children. Today, miss-use of social mediaand cyber-bulling could be attributed to peer pressure.

Human beings, even as children, are born influencers and want to control and dominate others. So it is with children; they pressure each other for all manners of reasons. They can be so mean to each other that they sometimes intentionally or otherwise, force others to do things they don’t like. They do so by mocking, bullying, teasing or coercing the unwilling friend to engage in bad activities. But even if a child is not pressured to take to illicit habits, they’d join in because they want their friends to accept them.

Peer pressure can be very detrimental to children, as it can rob them of timeous opportunities and the prospects of a good future. When children start to abuse drugs or engage in sex at an early age, lots of undesirable things could happen. Drug abuse for example can lead to ill-heath and poor judgment, while adolescent sex can lead to pregnancies and other sexually transmitted infections. These can make a child lose his/her place in school. When a child loses the opportunity to go further in education, their prospects for a better life diminishes.

Note; any child can pressure another, so let’s make sure that even our very own pious and precious children are not a bad influence on others. We can do this by making sure that our children are responsible enough to take care of their actions and respect the opinion of their friends, irrespective of gender. Getting to know who their friends are and what they do together is one way of minimizing adolescent peer pressure.

For children to resist peer pressure, they should trust their instinct, because everyone has that inner voice – the conscious that tells them that…’Something is wrong here.’ Children need to be assertive and learn to say ‘No,’ when they have to. These tenets of assertiveness, self-belief and confidence don’t come by themselves but are imparted as children grow. Thus you see that the home environment is the best training ground for children to stand up for themselves.

Sometimes children can be forced to do something against their will by an older friend or companion. They should be taught that they are free to report someone if they are forcing them to do something they don’t want to.

We all get pressured at one point or another, but adolescent and young adults are more prone to excessive pressure because they are young and lack experience to make informed decisions. Therefore, as parents we need to be close to our children and give them the values and behaviors they need to grow with and be responsible citizens. We should teach children to make good and healthy choices. For example, children should know that if a friend is unreasonably demanding or forceful, then such a friendship is not worth maintaining. Young ones should look for friends that are understanding and respectful.

Health relationships have some of the following ingredients:

 Mutual respect and understanding
 Patience
 Forbearance
 Similar interests, goals or objectives
 They should be transparency
 They should be happy to be together and happy to be apart.
 Honest

Adolescents that attend church gatherings are more likely to have health relationships than those who don’t. Therefore as parents and community leaders we need to encourage children to associate themselves with churches or mosques. Bird of the same feathers flock together, but as parents and guardians, let’s help our children to choose the right friends.

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