Understanding Threat Taking & Peer Strain in Adolescents

Understanding Risk Taking & Peer Pressure in Adolescents

Welcome to the second episode of Connect the dots, a three-part podcast series designed to help parents and their teenage / teenage children understand and address some of the most pressing issues they face today in their home and society. Understanding the subject or title of today’s podcast, risk taking and peer pressure in teens, is a natural evolution of the first podcast where we looked at body image and self-esteem.

I am very excited to have Stuart Wilson of Zest Life with me again and I must say Stuart’s contribution has been invaluable. My message to parents and young people: Please tune in, the better for you. We may not have all the answers, but often the crucial part is knowing how to identify the problem and be able to solve it in the most appropriate and effective way.

Even if you think you are the only parent / teenager facing these challenges. Be assured; You are not. There are communities of support frameworks to help you. Notice…..

You’re not alone.

So on the subject: Understanding risk-taking & peer pressure in young people.

Taking risks is actually part of the development process as a young person.

Before we take any risks, we need to look at the various stages of development from baby to adulthood. As toddlers, children are embedded. That is, they depend on their mother and father for everything. At the age of 5 or 6, when they start school, they start to depress themselves a little. Divesting is a natural process in which the child learns to make their own choices and make their own choices, be it friends or activities they prefer. This is normal behavior and is good, although of course it can be an emotional challenge for some parents.

This phase of detachment lasts a while and leads to the phase of inwardness. Usually this is the case in the first year of secondary education. This is where the youngsters begin to define their own friendships and groups. It’s about fitting in and belonging.

This phase of inwardness lasts 5/6 years, from which you move on to the integrated phase, where you feel you have landed, know who you are and maybe know what you want to do with your future.

Then they start into adulthood. Depending on how embedding, inwardness and integration went, this has a defined influence on whether the start into adulthood is good or bad.

Adults can get trapped in the inward phase and addressing this problem requires help.


Young people want to race through inwardness. They will try to fit into different groups and may do so by taking risks or engaging in activities that the group deems appropriate – alcohol, vaping, sexual encounters.

So you are taking risks and it is important to know that risk taking is normal. It is good that they are in this state, but as parents / adults we need to be aware of the risks we allow them to take.

You’re not alone.

What can we do to help our children get safely through the phase of inwardness when risk taking is part of this life?

Talk. Talk. Talk.

As obvious as it may seem, the most important thing you can do is talk.

Parents often have the feeling that their children want nothing to do with them during the phase of inwardness. The opposite is the case and you will bridge this by bidding. Bid on their time by constantly offering your time to listen and help. To be there. Be consistent and keep bidding.

You will love your children as you were loved as a child – hugs and / or verbal affirmation. But that may not be their language. We have to reach them appropriately, not as we do, but as they need to.

If we bid but no response, remember that you will still be heard.

You’re not alone.

For more useful insights, see the Understanding Adolescent Risk-Taking and Peer Pressure podcast below. Just click the play button.


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