Friends and classmates can influence decisions. See 7 ways to help.

From the beginning, parents work to teach their children how to make healthy decisions. But as children age, parents' influence decreases and the opinion of peers becomes more and more important. Social pressure can affect a wide range of thoughts, actions and behaviors, from academic performance to substance use to mental health.

"Teens have so much on their plates," says Stacie Goran, LPC, LCDC, Teen Recovery Program Manager at Children's Health. "Between school expectations, parental guidelines, the desire to fit in and the influences of their peers, it's easy to become overwhelmed and follow the group. It's important that teens develop their own identity and learn how to hold firm to their values to avoid peer pressure."

Learn more about the types and effects of peer pressure and how you can prepare your child to deal with it in a healthy way.

What is peer pressure?

Peer pressure is internal or external pressure felt to behave in certain ways, both good and bad. Peer pressure begins as early as age 10 with the forming of social groups in elementary school and increases during adolescence, throughout junior high and high school.

Changing hormones, developing brains and emerging identities makes the start of adolescence a particularly vulnerable time, where peer pressure is most influential. This is also a stage in life where friend groups are of utmost importance and the need to fit in is a major factor in decision making.

Types of peer pressure

There are several different types of peer pressure that kids and adolescents may experience. Types of peer pressure include spoken and unspoken, direct and indirect, and negative and positive.

What are the effects of peer pressure?

Read more on peer pressure and the seven ways parents can help.