BY RUTH KEDIKILWE
On the onset of puberty alongside the challenges that come with the physical and emotional changes that one endures, they also have to contend with the third of the triplets also known as peer pressure. Unlike puberty peer pressure does not stop and the decision to whether or not to be a part of the mob psychology becomes harder as lines become blurrier between the good and bad.
From a birth it is the duty of the parents to decide on literally on everything regarding the growth and well being of their off spring from what they eat, wear, where they go to school and right down to the friends they keep. As time progresses and the child grows they become wiser and are expected to make their own decisions and choices. As luck would have it in this life we need to co-exist with others and society is structured in such a way that there is immense pressure to fit in somewhere and in order to fit in one must conform, compromise and sometimes completely change their behavior all in the name of fitting in and that is the entry point of peer pressure.
A Guidance and Counseling teacher in one of the private Ptimary Schools in Gaborone, Mr Sithole explained that since they spend a long time with the students (from standard zero to standard seven) they get to witness the metamorphosis from being a dependent toddler to a raging adolescent. According to him it is important to instill strong values in children to build solid characters that will not be swayed by others easily in any given situation. Sithole attributes a lot of pressure to the rising use of social media and cites things like cyber bullying and body shaming as detrimental factors to the growth of children’s characters.
“We see a lot of children completely somersault personalities, a decline in their grades and becoming rude and arrogant towards teachers and other students simply because of a change in their social circle,” says Sithole. It is imperative that parents also keep a close watch on their children’s behavior and attitudes and show concern when their grades fluctuate seeing as this could be the result of falling in with the wrong crowd.
Though peer is often associated with adolescents because of the vulnerability of that stage in life where they are learning not to depend on their parents for entirely everything but have not quite yet developed their own principles and are still learning how to handle human interactions and consequences of their actions. On the other hand during adolescence it is when one strives for social acceptance and really battle with fitting in which could lead into being coerced into engaging in behavior of questionable repute.
Now enters adulthood in all her glory, temptations and expectations, the peer pressure does not disappear it merely adjusts to tackle from a whole new dimension. Adults are also vulnerable to the worst kind of peer pressure more so that they have no one other than life’s lessons to reprimand them when they falter. Their independence renders the types of pressure limitless, as a child at the end of the day the need and requirement to go home to mummy and daddy was a safety net.
Many adults drink too much in order to have the right kind of social life, they engage in casual sex, have multiple concurrent partners to finance the ideal lifestyle and can end up neglecting their families to put in extra work to climb up the corporate ladder to get that promotion deemed to be the ideal job.
Clinical psychologist Dr Gloria Mbebe explained in an interview that people should not be fooled into thinking that they leave peer pressure behind once they grow up because adults too face it because as an adult one still posses the desire to be accepted. Like in adolescents the pressure comes from the people that one surrounds themselves with.
Dr Mbebe went to say that the pressure can come in two different forms being negative and positive and it is always important as an adult to assess the kind of people you allow into your life and look out for those who are supportive, have self control and generally good and positive habits. The kind of people to be wary of are the negative naysayers who hardly celebrate success and thrive on the downfall of others.
“The most powerful two letter word on this planet is the word NO, learn to assess your options pick well with the knowledge that NO is also an option,” says Mbebe. It is also important that they should know that they have the right to say no and they owe no one an explanation or reason for their refusal to partake in whatever they consider unnecessary.
Being a brown nosing people pleaser with the inability to say no is a result of years of lack of self esteem and character, according to Dr Mbebe these kinds of people suffer from all kinds of depression emanating from unnecessarily engaging in behavior they did not really want to do. Th ey are said to end up in debt from living beyond their means and the worst case scenarios have lead to suicide.
To avoid the drama, depression or something equally psychotic choose well and carefully the kind of people surrounding you.