“If you don’t control your mind, someone else will”
If a parent is apprehensive about taking the kids to the mall, and children do not allow the parent to enter the shopping space or leave it, without disturbing their peace, throwing a tantrum or insisting on buying “this” or “that” thing which some friend possesses, it could be a trap of peer influence we are witnessing!
Children’s behaviour, demands and desires often reflect the influence of their peers. We witness this more in kids nearing their teens and in teenagers. Peer influence –good or bad is a reality. Growing kids are “the influence” sometimes and “the influenced” at other times.
Unfortunately the pressure to be like that attractive person, the desire to be part of a social group or the desire to generally ‘fit in’ doesn’t end in childhood. These feelings reappear in our lives as adults. They probably grow with us.
Peer and societal pressure is a reality of adult life. And adults succumb to it as much as children do, and more!
Adult peer pressure is injurious, it’s controlling, and influences us far more than we realize. Ironically, we are expected to be more at peace with who we are, by the time we are mature adults.
Perhaps living up to these expectations creates the problems? Perhaps not..
While children have several buffers in their life, to balance them, cushion them and keep them grounded by force or by love, the struggle for adults is far greater.
The pressures to fit in or belong to a social or professional group come from within us in adult years. And we are too grown up to admit to such pressures, let alone admitting to giving in to them!
It seems normal to hear from children that they want that device or dress or hairstyle, which their friend flaunts, while hearing the same from an adult is definitely not the norm. Adults never do admit to any such desires. Sadly, a huge majority of adults are full of them!
Peer pressure in adults manifests in different ways.
- We may at a subconscious level be succumbing to pressures to be like a peer who seems comfortable, happy and content with the way they are; who seems sound in family, health and wealth. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?! Well, that’s the perception at least. Our perceptions create all the pressure in adult years. The reality may be far from that perceived fairy tale!
- Sometimes conforming to a group is important to us. Feeling different from a group can be hard. This usually happens when people move to a new city or start a new school or job. This often means having to make new friends and fit into a new environment. To avoid feeling out of place, you do things to make sure you feel like the rest of the group. When people feel unsure about themselves, they are more likely to feel the effects of peer pressure.
- Peer pressure in parent groups, to match up to other children’s abilities is probably the most awful kind of peer stress in adults. The stress around kids’ performance (competitive parenting) and feelings of resentment that follow, are doubly disturbing, to the parent and child!
The adult peer pressure cycle of conformity is mildly vicious. If you succumb to one pressure, another crops up! New pressures keep erupting time and again. By the time the person catches up with the crowd, the crowd moves further to newer standards, abilities, fashion etc. The target keeps getting pushed far and further ahead. Catching up becomes a stress for life; until we realize it and change course consciously or are simply too exhausted to cope!
Off course we all love to be appreciated, we all love attention and we love to be a part of a peer group that nods to what we say and how we behave. Positive peer influence is the one which works for our betterment, drives and motivates us. Peer influence is positive as long as the pressure isn’t stress; as long as it doesn’t alter our relationships, pass on to the kids and as long as it doesn’t risk our sanity and mindfulness!
Rohini Sethi Child Development Consultant https://in.linkedin.com/in/rohini-sethi-32715247