As Roam wasn’t built in a day so do individuals grow from children to adults. Majority of the attributes, behaviours and personalities individuals exhibit were developed during their adolescent stage. How successful a person can become in business is sometimes connected to the kind of personality the person has and how this individual can deal with or react in certain circumstances. This article Handling Peer Pressure, Making Decisions & Learning to Communicate Thoughts and Feelings is set to take us through the adolescent period when certain behaviours are formed.
HANDLING PEER PRESSURE
During the adolescent years, an adolescent’s friends begin to play a more significant role in the life of the adolescent. Because they are age mates and friends they play a support role, especially as the adolescent gradually disengages from family to be on his own.
The Importance of Friends
Every human being, whether young or old, male or female, has some basic human needs. Some of these needs include: the need to feel loved and wanted, need for belongingness, need to be treated as a person of value, need to be accepted and need to feel safe and secure. These needs, as important as they are, cannot be met by us. They are needs that are met in our lives by others. In other words, it is the relationships in our lives that help us meet these needs.
Friendships are very important to adolescents particularly because of the role friends play in their lives. Adolescents can do home work with their friends, they can talk over problems with their friends as well as just share good times together.
During the early years of life when the young person was relatively dependent on others, parents chose friends for their children but as they get older, especially as they transit into adolescence, they choose their own friends.
Reasons Adolescents make and keep friends
Adolescents make and keep friends for the following reasons:
- Similarity of Interests: Adolescents make and keep friends because they share common interests. These common interest is what attracts them one to the other.
- Similarity of values: Adolescents make and keep friends who share similar beliefs and standards of behaviours with them.
- Attractive Personal Qualities: Adolescents are also drawn to make their friends with other adolescents whose personal qualities they admire. Such personal qualities may be truthfulness, kindness or a sense of humour.
- Attending same school and living in same neighbourhood: Adolescents make friends with others sometimes because they live in the same neighbourhood or attend the same school
Qualities of a Good Friend
Adolescents relate with one another at various levels as friends. Some of such friendship relationships are close and intimate while some are causal. It is very important that every adolescent know what to look for in any friendship or relationship. The following are qualities of good friend according to Merki (1996).
- Loyalty: A good friend is true and faithful to his friend no matter what others say or do.
- Reliability: A friend is said to be reliable when you can count on him to do what he or she said. This quality of being able to depend on a friend is very important when it comes to working together as a group.
- Sympathy: A good friend is one who is aware of how you are feeling at a given moment. This quality is very important because life goes up and comes down. Our ability to understand and care about how a friend is feeling is what really makes one a true friend.
- Caring: A good friend is caring. He desires only the best for his friend. A friend that is caring may even risk the friendship by asking his friend to stop doing something that is hurting him or other people.
Pressure from Peers
In the adolescence years, an adolescent’s friends begin to play a very significant role in the life of the adolescent. Because they are age mates and friends they play a support role in the life of the adolescent as he gradually begins to disengage from his family to be on his own.
As they offer this support, they may expect one another to follow, act and think like the group. Peer pressure refers to the influence a young person feels to go along with the behaviour and beliefs of his or her peer group.
Adolescence therefore is an age of conformity. The pressure to follow the whims of the group is never as great as it is during this period. This drive may be all-consuming to an adolescent when any deviation from the “in” behaviour is a serious breach of etiquette. If the group says a particular type of canvas is out, woe be to the boy who doesn’t get the message soon enough. If a girl walks or talks funny, she may be the object of scorn throughout her day.
Each teenager therefore knows that safety from ridicule can only be found by remaining precisely on the chalk line of prevailing opinion. And for the young person who at this time his emotional needs and self doubt are the greatest, he dare not run the risk of defying the will of the majority on even the most trivial matter.
During adolescence therefore, the pressure to conform to group standards is so strong that an adolescent may know that what he is about to do is wrong and still go ahead to do it if he feels that is what will admit him into the good books of the group. Many young girls have become pregnant because they didn’t want to be social isolates in their group. In the same way, many boys have contacted different kinds of sexually transmitted diseases because they lacked the courage to go against the tide. It is imperative therefore that a good sexuality counselor take time to teach teenagers to know about group pressure. Teaching them may not guarantee that they will all have the courage to stand alone in that critical moment but their knowledge of peer influence will provide the independence to do what is right.
Types of Peer Pressure
Peer pressure is not necessarily bad. It can be positive or negative. Positive peer pressure refers to what an adolescent feels when others his age influence him to do something worthwhile and reasonable. On the other hand, negative peer pressure is what an adolescent feels when others his age challenge him to do something wrong or to try something that goes against his values.
Handling Peer Pressure
Standing up against peer pressure is not easy. This is especially true in adolescence whom the temptation to confirm is very real. When one does not go along with the group, he himself feels bad and is afraid he would lose the love and approval of the group.
All the same, it is important that every young person learn to resist pressure to do things that are not right for them. Being able to stand on your own and not following the group all the time is a skill that every young person may learn.
Ways to Resist Peer Pressure
According to Merki (1996) a young person can resist peer pressure by doing the following:
- Avoid situation where you might be subjected to negative pressure.
- When faced with negative pressure, remember the values and beliefs you learned at home and refuse to go against them.
- When other adolescents put pressure on you, find a friend who thinks the way you do and get support from each other.
- Always remember you have a right to say no to negative peer pressure by making an excuse or suggesting a different activity.
- When you notice the pressure is getting too much, you can just walk away instead of remaining there for things to get worse.
As you learn to say ‘no’, Merki (1996) further suggests:
- Be firm, mean what you say
- Speak calmly, using the appropriate language
- Look your peers in the eye. If you act wishy washy your peers will think they can change your mind.
- Do not give in, even a little
- Offer alternatives to any negative idea
- Don’t agree to “meet the person half way”. It is your right to say “no”. Besides, giving in a little is a way of saying yes a little.
A very important part of daily living is making decisions. We daily make many decisions with little thought or effort. When one gets to adolescence he will probably make more difficult decisions than the ones during childhood.
Helping adolescents develop decision making skills especially as they become more independent and will need to make more decision on their own is very important.
Decisions are choices an individual makes. Some decisions are minor while others are important. Dècisions on whether one should start having sex are a major one with grave consequences. Making them carefully will make a young person a happy and healthy person.
How Some Young People Make Everyday Decision
The following are ways some young people make their everyday decisions:
- They just let things happen without thinking They do what they think will please others
- They act on impulse, or do what they feel like doing at a particular moment
- They act out of habit i.e. doing what they have always done.
This approach to decision making may appear easy but they are more of “quick fixes”. These quick fixes may be harmless to make everyday decisions. Important choices however will definitely require more thought and planning. This is because using methods in which you don’t think through the problem though can hurt.
Six very important steps of decision making
The sure way to making wise decisions is to break down the decision making process into steps. Doing this allows one to deal with the problem in small manageable important steps which include:
- State exactly what the problem or situation really is List the options open to you
- Weigh possible outcomes (the positive and negative)
- Consider your values Make a decision and act
- Evaluate the decision
Benefits of Good Decision
Making good and wise decision as a young person has many benefits:
- Making good decisions help a young person gain control over his life. He determines what happens. not others or situations.
- Good decision making improves one’s self concept and self esteem. That is, when you are confronted by problems, instead of running away from them or shifting them to someone else you decide on how to solve them. This makes you feel good about yourself.
- It puts your future right in your hands. You can reinvent your life as well as be sure your life is taking the direction you want it to take.
- It makes one increase his level of self reliance. This happens as one becomes responsible for his actions.
- Good decision making fosters one’s relationship with family and friends. Through the process of decision making, one learns to respect the opinions and feelings of others and makes others respect him too.
LEARNING TO COMMUNICATE THOUGHT AND FEELINGS
Communication is the exchange of thoughts and feelings between two or more people. Communication is a process which involves a message, sender and reciever. Communication is a two-way process, it involves not only giving messages but also receiving. When one is sad he or she might tell friend about his or her feelings. The friend might respond by giving him or her advice or encouragement.
The friend might also explain her own personal experience when he or she felt sad or happy. This is communication.
Types Of Communication
There many ways by which people communicate. Sometimes they communicate through body movements. This happens mostly when people are expressing their feelings. The following are ways by which people
- Words: Communication can take place through speaking and listening. In addition to speaking and listening, tone of voice also reveals one’s feelings. This is very important because sometimes people send mixed messages; for example, a situation where their words don’t match their tone of voice. This can cause confusion to the listener.
- Facial expressions: People communicate by the expressions or looks on their faces. For example, a frowned face suggests a person is unhappy; a smile suggests that a person is happy. In the same way, a raised eyebrow might mean that someone is in doubt or suspicion.
- Gestures: People also communicate through gestures or movement of their hands and arms. A nervous person can tap his or her finger because he or she is nervous. A clenched fist may mean that a person is angry and when people cross their arms tightly across the chest it may mean that the person feels uncertain.
- Posture: A person’s posture or the way he holds his body are also a way of communicating. When one walks with his head down it may mean that he is sad while standing or sitting erect with the head held high may suggest that a person feels good.
Rules of Good Communication
It is not an easy skill to learn to communicate effectively. Through practice, one can become better at understanding what other people are feeling and at letting others know what you are feeling.
The following rules are essential in good communication according to Merki (1996):
- Think before you speak. This prevents you from saying what you didn’t plan to say and thereby regret saying it.
- Be honest. It is an important communication skill to say what you really think and feel. However, it is important you do so patiently.
- Don’t do all the talking. Allow the other person to also speak and you listen. By doing this, you are also helping him or her to express his or her thoughts and feelings.
- Be aware of your listener. Crosscheck to confirm that your listener is understanding what you are saying.
- Keep an open mind. Be ready to listen to what the other person is saying even though you disagree.
- Try not to interrupt. Allow the other person a chance to finish what he or she has to say.
- Pay attention to the speaker. Concentrate, don’t think about something else while the other person is talking to you.
- Ask questions. Asking questions shows the other person that you are listen.