Peer behavior, both positive and negative, is a strong influence on adolescent decision making. Bonding with pro-social others fosters belonging and connectedness, mitigating the impact of risk factors on behavior. Peer selection skill, including the ability to make and maintain positive friendships, is a critical protective factor. Adolescents surrounded with positive influences make better, less-risky choices, and are more likely to reach their goals.
Adolescents overestimate the percentage of their peers who use marijuana and underestimate the negative effects of the drug's use. Perception of harm is an important factor for mitigating risk. Normative education methods effectively correct misconceptions about behavior.
The teenage brain is predisposed to impulsive behavior and risk-taking as the executive functions managed by the frontal lobe develop. Adolescents often underestimate the addictive nature and the dangerous effects of the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs. Establishing a clear perception of harm about these drugs builds protection within the adolescent to mitigate the risk of abuse.
Effective communication skills enable adolescents to resolve conflict peacefully, share feelings and ideas with others, and enhance cooperation. Adolescents who are effective communicators are better able to make decisions consistent with their goals and develop healthy relationships.