Middle childhood and adolescence period comes with a number of changes to teens. This is a transition stage that involves exploration and freedom among teens. It is also a period when teens have to deal with issues of self-consciousness and a search for self-identity. Peer pressure is a significant factor that influences adolescents. During this period, self-consciousness becomes significant for teens. Thus, the effect of peer pressure can be immense when relating with others. Some challenges during this stage include handling sexuality, experimentation with drugs and other substances, varying views about social relationships, family relationships, and social networks (Lansu and Cillessen, 2012).
Peer relationship is a chance for teens to develop their social networks and establish their positions within specific social groups. Developing peer relationships can provide positive conditions for social and emotional development through interaction. Interaction among peers can create a social bond for support (Jacobs, Vernon and Eccles, 2004). This is a positive approach to social development among teens. The middle childhood stage brings fundamental changes in views about friendship among teens. At this stage, teens can develop relationships, which can last for several years.
Children can establish friendship at an early age. However, middle childhood and adolescence stages can alter such friendship as teens seek for understanding and acceptance in relationships. Thus, acceptance of friendship is a critical part of middle childhood and adolescence. Teens may change their behaviors, habits, tastes, hobbies, and other activities in order to gain acceptance in a social network. They may consider such similarities as strong sources of security in a social network. It may also reinforce acceptance in a social network. Erik Erickson referred this as a crisis of identity or confusion among teens.
During the adolescence stage, teens normally base their relationships on commonality and emotional relationships. This deviates from the middle childhood stage. Members of a given peer group often have common dress codes, same interests, hobbies, and other common attributes, which differentiate them from the rest. Adolescents are sensitive to rejection and consider it a betrayal. Developments in relationships bring changes in adolescents as they turn their attention to social rules and social status. A clique may emerge as a way of developing strong social relationships among members of a group.
Peer pressure has a strong influence (Burton, Ray and Mehta, 2003). It may force teens to respond to what their friends prefer or do. In most cases, one may relate peer pressure with unwanted behaviors. For instance, teens may experiment with sex, drugs, distasteful clothing, or even skip school. Conversely, peer pressure also has positive effects on teens. It leads to emotional maturity and cognitive development. Overall, teens will associate with those whom they have common interests, same activities, backgrounds, and other similar elements of life.
Middle childhood and adolescence can be a period of challenges due to issues of self-consciousness, aware of social relationships, and peer pressure among others. Teens struggle to create their own identities, and they identify with social groups with similar interests and behaviors. However, peer pressure may lead to confusion based on unrealistic expectations. Teens use sex, drugs, and other behaviors or activities to explore adolescence. At this stage, guidance is critical for positive outcomes from peer relationships. Teens must be careful during this stage because choices they may make usually have strong influences on growth and development into adulthood.
Burton, B., Ray, G. and Mehta, S. (2003). Children’s Evaluations of Peer Influence: The Role of Relationship Type and Social Situation. Child Study Journal, 33(4).
Jacobs, J., Vernon, M., and Eccles, J. (2004). Relations Between Social Self- Perceptions, Time Use, and Prosocial or Problem Behaviors During Adolescence. Journal of Adolescent Research, 19(1), 45-62.
Lansu, T., and Cillessen, A. (2012). Peer Status in Emerging Adulthood: Associations of Popularity and Preference With Social Roles and Behavior. Journal of Adolescent Research, 27(1), 132-150.