Peer pressure…how well do you handle it?
I’ve been around kids regularly ever since I’ve been a kid. Some people would even say I’m still a kid. I’m hoping that’s a good thing. I also have a habit of watching people. I like to see how people in general cooperate and interact with others around them. To some people, they seem to be influenced a lot by other people. I think most of us were influenced by others over the course of our lives. Peer pressure can be good as well as negative. When was the last time you did something you really didn’t want to do because of peer pressure?
Many people feel that peer pressure comes when you’re younger and goes away when you’re older. To most people, that is the case, for others; not so much. Many years ago I had a student who was 72 years of age. She received enough peer pressure from her friends and family that made her feel that she had to meet me for her in-car lessons at the end of her street. She didn’t want anyone to know she was learning to drive so didn’t want to be picked up at her home. She said that since most people are much younger when they learn to drive, she would stick out from the crowd. Peer pressure? Absolutely.
Confidence in yourself and what you’re doing is important as a driver. It’s important in life, but let’s just focus on driving for now. When I’m teaching someone to drive at Young Drivers of Canada and they perform an action on their own, I ask them why they did what they just did. I need them to back up their decisions and feel positive about it. When a student replies “I saw other people do it” I remind them that the other drivers may be doing something wrong. They need to be a leader and not a follower when it comes to making driving decisions.
Sometimes when we have our friends in the vehicle we may do what they want and not what we want. When I hear when drivers were just pulled over by police for speeding and they say to the officer their friends made them drive faster. Seriously? Did their friends put pressure on their foot to make the car go faster? We’ve often dealt with this as kids. Remember when we would get into trouble from our parents because we did things our friends wanted us to do even though we knew it was wrong? I think it’s time to grow up and take ownership for your own actions.
Part of getting over peer pressure for making driving choices is understanding what your needs are as a driver and being able to explain why you need to do them. For example, we often see drivers changing how they perform in the vehicle. They stop signalling for their turns, they begin rolling stops and cut the corner as they make turns. They never learned those things from a professional instructor, so where did they learn them? Their friends and family come to mind.
I had a student once whose father said it wasn’t necessary to drive the way I was teaching. He kept asking his daughter to drive faster than the speed limit on a regular basis and to just roll through stops. I explained to him it wasn’t the proper thing to do for safety reasons and especially if she wanted to pass her driver’s test. She kept telling me he would constantly put pressure on her while she was driving with him to do it his way, so she gave into his peer pressure and did. She also failed her road test twice before finally passing. Whoever thought peer pressure is only brought onto us by our friends is wrong.
There are two things to think about here. Whether we succumb to peer pressure or if we should dish it out. None are positive. Be your own person and make your decisions based on your values. Be able to back up your thoughts and beliefs and avoid forcing others to do what you know is wrong or unsafe. Be the bigger person. Learn to accept the ideas from other people. Who knows, you may learn a thing or two yourself.