ADDers fall for peer pressure. That’s a bold statement and it is, more often than not, true. The reasons are simple really, nothing complex about an ADDer submitting to peer pressure. In fact, I have met many adults diagnosed late with ADHD that did not understand why they kept giving in until they were actually diagnosed and receiving treatment. Many of us with ADHD and still undiagnosed (I was diagnosed at the age of 37) know something is different about the way we are, we do not exactly conform and we feel inferior in many ways (you are NOT inferior for having ADHD, no, never think that, ever). Even those who are diagnosed and receiving treatment find themselves falling for peer pressure. It’s about fitting in and doing anything to not be the odd one out. It’s not a good thing. Falling for peer pressure opens one up to be used and abused literally.
Choice is very important, I have written about this several times already. We cannot always do what we would rather do or what our preference is; however, when we have a choice and it is our decision that will determine a direction or outcome it is important to be able to make the decision you want. I am not saying one cannot take into account other view points and make a rational decision from those view points, that’s not peer pressure, that’s what I call wise. Resisting all forms of peer pressure isn’t necessarily the right thing to do, all of us want to get along, and a person does not have to have ADHD to feel out of place or outside the group. What’s important is identifying what you will allow and what you will not allow. If you agree with a certain rationale then to resist what others have suggested simply because you don’t want to be seen as giving in isn’t beneficial either.
Breaking rules just because everyone else is doing it isn’t right. Doing anything just because a group of people are doing it isn’t right. We have to identify the situation and realize what’s actually going on. ADDers tend to miss out on a lot of communication cues when they are given subtly, especially if the communication is trying to circumvent rules, regulations or even laws. Contrary to what many believe, ADDers pay very close attention to rules and have an acute sense of law and order. We like structure and organization even if we do not seem to be capable of either of those. You might be surprised to find out that many ADDers are doctors, lawyers, managers, firefighters and accountants, etc. ADDers do have an eye for details and specifics, just not in the way others might expect. ADDers who can come to terms with the way their mind works have a much better chance at becoming successful and avoiding negative impacting peer pressure.
My suggestion to anyone treating ADHD at any age is to take a closer look at peer pressure. Once a person starts down the road of giving in to any and all peer pressure it can be very difficult to break the habit and may actually mean cutting off connections with certain people for a while or indefinitely until one’s self confidence is restored. You shouldn’t have to wonder why bullies frequently choose an ADDer to abuse, it’s because an ADDer is more likely to give in just to get along – nobody wants to be berated all day long. For those raising, and/or teaching ADHD children just keep in mind that a child can only take so much of “Your lazy!”, “Do better!”, “If you just put your mind to it!”, “Why can’t you be more like…!” before he or she breaks and just tries to do what everyone wants, even those who ask for him or her to do ‘bad’ things. The higher a child’s self-esteem, the less likely he or she will fall for peer pressure of the ‘bad’ kind.
I wrote about my situation with peer pressure in my memoir and how I benefited from and used therapy to improve myself. On our interactive ADDer World site we have many members who are parents and/or teachers of those with ADHD who are dealing with such situations as peer pressure and finding ways to build their children’s self confidence along with their decision making skills. Join us and learn from our shared experiences. We also have an abundant amount of late diagnosed Adult ADDers who have perhaps the best understanding of peer pressure. If you have some advice for those who might be succumbing to negative peer pressure, please leave a comment with your suggestions, we can all learn from each other…