Peer pressure is everywhere for teenagers. It can be tempting to go along with your friends even when you know what they’re doing is wrong. We want to help you learn ways to resist peer pressure. It’s important to learn how to stand up to peer pressure because, as you grow up, you become your own person with your own ideas and moral code.
What is Peer Pressure?
Peer pressure occurs when people your age, usually your friends, pressure you into doing something you wouldn’t do on your own. If you go to the mall with your friends and they encourage you to shoplift, even though you normally wouldn’t steal, you were peer pressured into doing something.
That’s an example of peer pressure. Giving in to your friends’ urges to do something you don’t want to do. No, they didn’t make you do it. But they did make you feel like you wouldn’t be considered as cool or that they’d think less of you because you didn’t do what they were doing.
There are ways to resist peer pressure, but it can be hard for teens because you’re at such an impressionable age. It might feel like the world is ending if your friends stop inviting you to the mall because you’re “not cool enough” simply because you don’t want to do bad things.
Peer pressure can exist in less dramatic forms than shoplifting. Your peers can influence the way you dress, the way you talk, the activities you engage in, even what you eat. If you have a friend who decides to become vegan, for example, you might be tempted to try to be vegan also. Not because you sincerely want to be vegan, but because you think you’ll be seen as cool or equal to your friend.
How to Stand Up to Peer Pressure
Standing up to your peers is hard. Your friends become so important as you grow up. You might even spend more time with your friends than you do with your family. It makes sense that you want to fit in and be considered cool in their eyes.
Being influenced by your peers isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially when they demonstrate positive qualities you want to emulate. Maybe your friends decide to join the debate team and encourage you to join with them. You don’t want to be left out, so you go along and guess what? You like it! Plus, it’s a great activity to do after school and will look good on a college application.
Most of the time, though, peer pressure can get you into trouble. It also can cause you to lose your way a bit. If you’re always following what other people are doing you’re not thinking for yourself. And in your teenage years, it’s so important to form your own thoughts and opinions. You’re learning what your morals are and what kind of person you want to be.
Learning how to stand up to peer pressure isn’t easy. You have to stand strong in your beliefs about what’s right and wrong. It’s a good test of your sense of yourself. If you know what you believe in and what you consider good and bad behavior to be, that will help you resist peer pressure.
5 Ways to Resist Peer Pressure
Giving in to peer pressure can lead to bad decisions. Shoplifting, drinking, doing drugs, having sex before you’re ready. Your peers may pressure you into doing things you wouldn’t normally do. That’s why it’s important to learn ways to resist peer pressure.
1. Choose Your Friends Wisely
Consider the type of person you want to be friends with. It’s easy to want to hang out with the cool kids, but if you have “cool” friends who are pressuring you to do bad things, they’re not so cool after all. Real friends don’t let their friends get in trouble.
2. Pause Before You Act
When you’re faced with a situation in which your friends are trying to get you to do something, don’t act right away. Take a step back, stop the interaction, and think about what you want. Consider whether these friends have your best interest at heart. If they don’t, then walk away from the situation. You don’t need to worry about being “lame” or “uncool” by doing the right thing. It makes you a good person who knows how to listen to yourself.
3. Learn How to Say “No”
Saying “no” and setting healthy boundaries with your friends is one of the hardest things to do. But doing so shows strength and courage. It’s not easy to stand up to your friends and find ways to resist peer pressure. But by saying “no” you’re sending a clear message to your friends that you won’t tolerate them putting you in negative circumstances.
4. Think About the Consequences
You’ve already demonstrated the ability to resist peer pressure by pausing before you act and saying “no.” Another way to stand up to peer pressure is to really think about what will happen if you go along with your friends. You could get caught shoplifting and end up in a lot of trouble, including getting arrested. If you drink or smoke or do drugs you risk not just getting in trouble with your parents but heading down a dangerous path that could lead to much bigger problems than getting grounded. Whatever the situation, stop and think about what could happen as a result of your actions. Decide if it’s worth it.
5. Think About Alternatives
Consider what other things you and your friends could do. Maybe you can talk them out of making a bad decision by suggesting something else that won’t get you in trouble. It might not be enough just to voice the consequences, although maybe that will help. But most likely the more effective way to resist peer pressure is to come up with other options for you and your friends. And if they decide to go ahead and do the thing anyway, it’s up to you to decide whether going along with them is worth it.
We know it can be difficult to know how to stand up to peer pressure. If you’re looking for support in finding ways to resist peer pressure, we’re here to help. Book a free consult to talk to our professional social workers today.