June 13, 2018

You’re wearing that to school?! Two experts discuss influences on teens

Pressure on adolescents to conform creates unnecessary stress

It’s about a month into the school year, and it’s at this point that some things begin to change. 

High school students start to make alterations to the way they look, as they add piercings, change the way they wear their hair, perhaps hike the hems of their skirts — or their pants — an inch or two.

Their language sometimes changes; new phrases and expressions become commonplace.

Their circle of friends shifts, and boys and girls they’ve known since early childhood fall by the wayside as new friends with a different appeal move into their spheres.

Why does this happen?  Most people would chalk it up to peer pressure, which undoubtedly, is part of the ritual of growing up. But there are other sources of stress for young people.

Shirley Steinberg, professor and director of the Werklund Centre for Youth Leadership Education, believes that parents and popular culture are strong influencers on what youth feel they need to do to belong.

And while Shelly Russell-Mayhew, an associate professor of counselling psychology agrees, she believes there's another way to look at peer pressure.

Steinberg and Russell-Mayhew sat down to talk about the issue; listen to a recording of their conversation.