During an age when adolescents have fluctuating hormones, pressure from parents to succeed in school (to ultimately get into a good college), fitting in with peers is an added pressure all teens will face. Many teens are aware of and seek out, what I call the “cool” factor. That teen that seems to dress the latest trends, know who is dating who in the celebrate world, seems to be charismatic and overall a likable individual by many at school. Other teens find themselves in awe of this “cool teen”, internally desiring to be friends with this teen, to be liked by them, or seeking the attention and approval of this “cool” teen. This desire to be ‘accepted’ and to ‘belong’ is a powerful driving force at this age.
Ultimately this “cool” factor leads teens to feel vulnerable and powerless in comparison to their own self assessment of ‘cool’. Teens find themselves doing anything, peer pressure to be seen and acknowledged. For example, the “cool” teen thinks it would be fun to ditch class, or steal something at the mall, or be cruel to another classmate. Vulnerability, insecurity and loneliness are strongly motivating the teen to push away these feelings of powerlessness and move towards the desired “cool” factor. Suddenly, by abandoning their burgeoning sense of self for the ‘cool’ identity, they find themselves doing “bad things”. This of course seems socially acceptable amongst teens.
In therapy, we explore the motivations of peer pressure, vulnerabilities, and discuss ways that fit into the adolescent’s social world without making bad choices to attempt to fit in with the cool teens. Increasing self-esteem and interpersonal identity of the adolescent are important pillars to developing a stronger sense of self and resisting future peer pressure.
Some of the tools and skills I tend to utilize when working with this guarded population are developing a professional working relationship with my client. Fostering empathy towards the individual’s vulnerabilities, insecurities, and loneliness by creating a safe and inviting environment for the self-expression in a non-judgmental setting. Engaging the individual in goal identification, provide additional tools and coping skills to guide the client towards obtain their goals.
Contact me to schedule your appointment.