Picking Your Friends
Your friends have your back and you have theirs. You spend tons of time together. You like the same things. They encourage you when you’re having a bad day and help you out when you need them. Needless to say, friends play a huge role in your life. So of course you want to make sure you choose wisely when picking your friends.
Choosing friends may seem like an easy decision, but falling into the wrong group can have serious consequences. There are lots of pressures that go along growing up and many of them come from your peers and friends. Usually we think of these pressures as negative peer pressure (link) but with the right group of friends, peer pressure can be positive, too.
Developing healthy friendships can help you in a number of ways.
Positive peer pressure can motivate you to succeed and encourage you to make healthy choices. Your friends can act as positive role models. They can listen to, accept, and understand the frustrations, challenges and concerns you have.
A lot of people want to feel accepted and like they belong.
Making friends is a way to feel like you fit in. But if the friends you choose make unhealthy choices, you may feel pressured to make those same decisions. Negative peer pressure can motivate people to make unhealthy choices and engage in risky behaviors such as Smoking, using Alcohol and Drugs, Sex or Illegal Behavior.
A young person’s need to be accepted virtually overrides every other facet of their life. During adolescence, teens experience peer pressure more intensely than any other time in their lives because their brains are still developing. The frontal lobe, which controls judgment, organization, planning and strategizing, is undergoing massive changes, and this affects their ability to perceive peer pressure. As a parent, it’s imperative that you work constantly and intelligently with your kids to make sure they can identify peer pressure. However, it’s as absolutely essential to provide skills to resist this pressure. It is never too early to start teaching your kids about peer pressure and how to identify it.
Positive peer pressure can spur your teen on to achievement: scholarly, social or athletic. With the right group of friends at their side, your child will have someone to listen to their problems, understand their frustrations and help them navigate the challenges of adolescence.
It’s important for teens to feel safe with their friends, and it’s important for you to feel that your child’s friends are good for them. Make sure you take the time to get to know your kid’s friends and families and try to make your home the one where they want to hang out. Young people learn to say “no” at an early age, however they may not know how to say “no” to a friend.
Above all, encourage your kids to have strong beliefs in themselves and in their ability to handle any situation in a positive manner. Ensure your kids understand that they have the right to say “no” and mean it and that any friend who does not take no for an answer is not a genuine friend. A true friend will respect their decision.