As adolescents try to find answers to their questions, anxiety builds inside of them. They experience a need ‘to fit in’ in order to ease the turmoil going inside. They spend more time with their peers and friends who are going through the same phase; thus their companionship helps decrease the anxiety.
Need to belong to a group: Belongingness
During adolescence, adolescents’ need to belong to a group increases. Every person needs another person in order to understand who he is. A peer group helps adolescents define their identity and gives them a sense of belongingness and security.
Peer pressure and friends’ influence can be either negative or positive. It depends on the type of peer group the adolescents choose. Healthy peer groups encourage teens to assume responsibilities and engage in positive behaviors such as reading books, joining a basketball team or a health club etc…
It is important for parents to be aware of their adolescent’s peer group. Healthy peer groups can include: scouts, school club, drama club, dance club, Red Cross, an NGO or a charity organization and others etc…
Some adolescents do not find any group that meets their needs; and thus they isolate themselves. Their inability to belong to a group and establish an identity can lead to depression and make them feel irritable, alienated and hostile. They may deal with their negative feelings by resorting to groups that are dysfunctional or groups that encourage self-destructive behaviors such as substance use.
Alienated teens who feel hopeless and depressed might resort to such unhealthy peer groups that allow them to experience their extreme negative emotions. They might belong to a group out of fear of being ridiculed, rejected or bullied. Some join a group out of curiosity to try new things.
All in all, adolescents join peer groups in order to feel accepted and fit it.
Parents play an important role in influencing their adolescents’ choices of peer groups and identity development. Whether their adolescent chooses a healthy or unhealthy peer group depends on the teen’s need of acceptance and level of unconditional love and fun he has experienced at home.
If your adolescent has not felt accepted and loved unconditionally at home, he may question family’s values and standards. He may fulfill his needs in dysfunctional peer groups that promote unhealthy coping of negative feelings.
Discover Your Other Side
What is it all about?
It is wrong to believe that psychotherapy is for crazy or sick people.
We all have personal experiences that have left some impact on our lives whether positively or negatively.
There should be no shame in seeking psychotherapy.
Relationship issues, depression, low self-esteem and other stressful situations can exert a lot of pressure on your life and make you feel trapped.
No matter how hard you have tried, you end up always feeling the same. You need not be alone. Seek change.
Adolescents’ behaviors reflect a lot of the chaos and tensions boiling within them.
Even though it is a turbulent time, adolescence is also potentially positive,
because one’s true identity can emerge when these internal tensions are approached and handled correctly.
It is wrong to believe that if your child is not causing you any trouble, then he or she is doing okay. You children depend on your attention and awareness to changes in their emotions and behaviors.
You do not have to go through your difficulties alone. A support group can help you connect with other individuals facing similar issues or challenges.