Peer pressure refers to the influence of other people upon an individual’s life borne out of interactions. When the term peer pressure is mentioned, it is mostly thought from a negative perspective. What comes to mind is friends influencing one another to abuse drugs, engage in reckless sexual behavior or fathom rebellion against the authorities. However, peer pressure can be positive. When one interacts with the right people, their influence on his life can be positive. Peer pressure has a very important role on the growth and development of individual meaning peers cannot be avoided but should be chosen carefully. Not all peer pressure is negative; the kind of influence one acquires out of peer pressure depends on the kind of people one interacts with. Parents have a very crucial role in ensuring that their child gets the right kind of influence out of peer pressure by influencing them to interact with the right peers. To prove the point, the paper will use real life experience.
The kind of influence peer pressure has on an individual depends on the nature of his or her friends. According to Newman and Newman (12), if one relates with peers who are well behaved and respectful, he or she is likely to acquire positive influence. Additionally, peer pressure can make one reevaluate his behavior and change for the better. For example, when I was about six years old, I had two friends, Randy and Greg. We lived in the same block and spent most of the time together. While my friends were laid-back, I was a daredevil and never seemed to settle. In class, I sat at the back with a group of cheeky boys. My behavior often landed me into problems with teachers. After school, I would pass by Randy’s place and spend the evening together playing monopoly. Randy suggested that we join the baseball team as a way of passing time after school, a decision I quickly rejected because I did not want to play in the same team with the boys I considered to be my enemies. Randy and Greg had made up their mind about joining and I offered to escort them to the game. After watching them play, my interest for the game sparked and soon I joined the team. With time, the game was no longer a way of passing time but something I enjoyed doing. The benefits of this were self-evident. It transformed my life to such an extent that my teachers wouldn’t believe it. It taught me teamwork, discipline, humility and respect for others. I also learnt that, as a sportsman, I was not supposed to smoke or drink in order to keep fit.
Not only that but every week the couch would teach us life skills, such as how to give back to the society which taught me the virtue of giving and empathy. In addition, the team was made of people from different backgrounds, ethnicity and races. Our team had people of Asian origin, African-Americans, Hispanics and Whites. Despite of our different backgrounds, we all played together as a team, something that taught me how to appreciate cultural diversity and to live with others harmoniously. According to Slavens and Shannon (24), positive peer pressure can lead to emotional control, positive thinking and sensible behavior. My experience above is a living testimony.
It is imperative, therefore, to appreciate that peer pressure is not all negative. It should be appreciated that peers can have a positive influence on each another. By following my peers, I became more exposed to the outside world. I was exposed to positive influences, which changed my perception of life for the better and equipped me with skills that would help me in life to become successful. The team members persuaded me to be focused in life, which helped me in ditching my bad company in school and in switching from the back of the class to the front. This ultimately helped me to concentrate more in class which resulted in improved performance earning me a place in the university. I, therefore, owe my success to the positive influence Randy and Greg had in my life by influencing me to join the baseball team, which became the turning point of my life for the better. The changing lifestyles of our people influence us to change our attitude towards life (Newman & Newman 7).
The role of parents in ensuring the child is influenced positively cannot be overestimated. To achieve this, parents should influence the kind of people their child interacts with. They should encourage the child to keep company of those peers who have the behavior they would want to cultivate in their child and discourage him or her from peers who have negative influence (Rainey & Nygren 34). Parents should be very tactful in doing this so that it is not taken as interference. Parents should also communicate freely with their child on what they expect of him or her. Communication is very important and for it to be effective, parents should form a close relationship with their child. Parents have a role to play in building child's self-esteem. A person with high self-esteem is not easily influenced negatively because he or she will not be easily moved into doing things that are against his or her belief just to feel accepted.
In conclusion, positive peer pressure enables a person to analyze his own behavior and character. This prompts to contemplate developing a positive approach towards life as a way of becoming more accepted among the peers. It is, therefore, important that the parents encourage their children to relate with the right people instead of locking them up in the house. Parents should help their children in choosing the right friends.