Most teens are affected by peer pressure in some way but they may not consciously realize it. Peer pressure is when a friend, classmate, or someone you know tries to convince you to do something you don’t want to do, or you know is wrong. The “something” is usually an activity that comes with some sort of risk. Most of us have been pressured by our peers in some way. For example, some teens have been pressured to have smoke, cut class, drink alcohol, or try drugs.
Peer pressure often works because the person who pressures uses guilt and insults to wear the person down and make their target feel like they have to do what they say. But, the truth is you don’t have to do anything; it’s up to you to decide what the best choices are for you. It’s okay to say “No” especially if you feel uncomfortable or if you know the activity comes will a lot of risks. Before making any decision you should consider the possible consequences of your choices; both positive and negative.
It’s important to remember that true friends are supposed to support and care for each other. If someone you consider to be your friend is pressuring you into doing something you don’t want to do, then you should reconsider whether that person really is worthy of your friendship. Don’t fall into the trap — “Do this or you can’t hang out with us.” This is a tactic that is often used in order to intimidate you into doing what others may want you to do. A true friend wouldn’t give you an ultimatum because they value you as a person and friend. Maintaining friendships is important; however, having healthy and positive friendships is more important.
Some Ways To Deal With Peer Pressure:
- Think about your choices — what would happen if you do it? What if you don’t?
- Follow your instincts. (If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right for you.)
- Hang out with people whose choices make you feel comfortable!
- Be assertive. Say what you think. Talk about what you feel.
- Say “No.” Suggest a healthier alternative. If you are still being pressured, walk away.
This entry is from the Winter 2011 edition of the CYWH Teen Talk Newsletter. Download the full pdf here.