Peer Influence on Kids is a Reality, Accept it
How can we change this relationship for the better? The lack of interaction between young people and adults seems to be a major cause of the antisocial trends in peer group society. If parents and teachers were to give young people more guidance and support, it is quite possible that much of the tension and hostility would diminish. It is very important for the parents to understand that peer group influence and pressure is a reality, that the new world of the children needs to be understood and that it is not always a bad one
The attitudes, beliefs and values of parents influence the behaviour of children. These influences are strongest during early childhood, but as the children start going to school and make friends they are subjected to the influence of their peer group.
All parents realize at some stage that this peer group pressure or influence over the lives of the children cannot be ignored. The thoughts, feelings and actions of young ones are derived from their class fellows and friends. Peer group power is often overlooked by parents and other adults, who either fail to accept or are unaware of the part it plays in the life of the young.
Its power increases generally with each year from sixth to the twelfth class, affecting both the performance and behavior in school and at home. The need to relate to others increases as the children grow. They construct their views of life, which are largely tailored and dependent on the attitudes, feelings and expectations of others.
Young people in their adolescence come to depend more on the opinions of their peers and less on those of their parents. But some adolescents mature before others and develop a self concept that is not necessarily a carbon copy of the perceptions and expectations of others. The emotional and social bonds that tie the children to their parents start to loosen as they become members of a peer society, that is, a society composed of a group of individuals of the same age. The peer group fulfills the growing need of the young, who find a new identity and develop feelings of adequacy and acceptance that differ from those experienced at home. Some children claim that they get bored at home as the interests they share with their peer group are missing in the home environment. They are tired of the values of conduct imposed by the family. How they love the company of their friends compared to the adults in the family!
During adolescence, new patterns appear and a shift of attitudes may be seen in early teens. One needs to have a tacit agreement with the children not to enter into conflict, and recognise the differences between the culture of the family /society and peer group. Your child is discovering a new world; partake in it, for sharing is caring. Generation gap only happens when the kids and their parents live in separate worlds without sharing their experiences.
The feelings of adolescents towards their parents are mixed. On one hand, they feel love, respect and recognize the need of guidance, support and help, but on the other hand, they long for independence and self sufficiency and resent having to ask or accept assistance and direction. Sometimes these feelings lead to rebelliousness. At this stage do not let the peer group take precedence over family values. It is a tricky passage of your child’s life, as adolescents will seek ways to proclaim adult status and independence from their parents. Often this has taken the form of engaging in activities that are contrary to the rules of society.
How can we change this relationship for the better? The lack of interaction between young people and adults seems to be a major cause of the anti-social trends in peer group society. If parents and teachers were to give young people more guidance and support, it is quite possible that much of the tension and hostility would diminish. It is very important for the parents to understand that peer group influence and pressure is a reality, that the new world of the children needs to be understood and that it is not always a bad one.
This gap can be bridged silently and slowly. Trust young ones, who will return this trust hundred fold to you and the world.
Dr Shayama Chona, is the former Principal of Delhi Public School, R K Puram, New Delhi; Founder President of Tamana (NGO for physically & mentally handicapped children); Founder of Anubhav Shiksha Kendra (a school for the under-privileged); she has been a member of 96 Advisory Boards and Committees; she has been nominated to Managing Committees of 46 schools and other educational institutions; she has been named in the Limca Book of Records 2007. She has been awarded the State Award for Services in Education 1993, National Award for Services as a Teacher of Outstanding Merit 1994, National Award for Outstanding Performance for Welfare of People with Disabilities 1997, Padma Shri 1999, Padma Bhushan 2008, and 49 other awards. She lives at C10/8, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi-110057. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com