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Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. Proverbs 13:20
This is a person who is the same age or who has the same social status as you.
This can be defined as difficulties and feelings of anxiety that are caused by the need to achieve or behave in a particular way.
PEER PRESSURE; is when someone influences your decisions around what you should or should not do.Peer pressure or influence can occur at various stages in our lives. When we are children, young adults or even during life.
Peer influence can be positive or negative. Positive influence can enable us achieve a common goal. For example students can form reading groups with their peers and achieve academic success. Adults can form investment groups and achieve financial success. Positive social group can help alleviate society ills, for example, eradicate poverty and retrogressive cultural practices like female genital mutilation (FGM). Recently, A positive peer influence enabled motorbike operators in a small town near Nairobi, Kenya to own their dream houses out of a little monthly contribution.
Nevertheless, negative peer influence has resulted to dire consequences. A lot of people have even lost their dear lives as a result of negative peer influence.
A young man near my grandparents’ home joined a gang in Nairobi city. They planned and executed high level crime activities for example stealing in major banks and well to do business enterprises. This led them to lead luxurious lives in the city and would frequently visit their peers in the countryside to show off their easy acquired riches. It is often said that ‘The days of a thief are numbered.
This young man fortieth day came sooner than expected, as it was their norm they had planned to rob a bank located at the city centre of Nairobi. As fate would he was shot dead together with his two accomplices. He would still be alive today and certainly achieving his life’s dreams if he did not join that dreadful peer group.
Young people, choose your friends wisely. There is an old saying, show me your friends and I will tell you who you are.
How can one resist negative peer influence?
Peer group pressure is a powerful force, but you can choose whether it is a good or bad influence on your life in the following ways;
- Surround yourself with Positive minded people- Choose friends who make you a better person. For example by enabling you develop various social skills for example leadership- to experiment with new roles and interactions. It’s often said that bad company corrupt good morals.
- Set and have a plan to achieve your goals- When you are committed to attain your set goals it will be easy to say to people who try to distract you from achieving your goals.
- Pay attention to your own feelings and belief about what is right or wrong
- High self esteem and self- confidence can enable you stand firm, say no to negative influence e.g drinking, experimenting with drugs, vandalism and stealing.
It’s important to know that sometimes you do not have to explain yourself, just say ‘no thanks’ to negative peer influence.
If resisting to the pressure proves extremely difficult, consult a trusted person for example a teacher, your parents, a relative or even a peer counselor.
A speaker in a school had this to say about peer influence “ if your clothes are made of green leaves, do not make a goat be your friend”
Parents should also keep in mind that the need for affiliation or the need to belong is often greater than the need to do the right thing. Young people should be supported emotionally, get parental love and feel accepted by the people they live with. Adolescents without strong family connections or positive connections with other adults in their life are at a greater risk of negative peer influence.
“Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful the friends you choose for you will become like them.”