Dealing with Peer Pressure

It can be really tempting to do everything you can to fit in with others. Wanting to feel part of something can put pressure on you to act in certain ways.

Peer pressure is feeling like you must do something just because your friends or others are doing it. But it’s okay to say no and make your own choices. Peers are people who you socialize with and include people you are friends with, go to school with or work with.  Your friends and peers influence your day to day decisions, and you might not even realise it. Sometimes this can be a good thing.  Other times, they might pressure you to do things you don’t want to do.

Peer pressure isn’t always a bad thing, such as when your friends stop you from doing something dumb that you’ll later regret. But often peer pressure can be linked to negative stuff. 

Don’t allow people to make you feel bad about yourself. Peer pressure thrives on making you feel bad about yourself, therefore making you feel that you must do whatever others are doing to feel good about yourself.

Why do people give in to peer pressure?

Some individuals give in to peer pressure because they want to fit in and feel included. Some people worry they might get laughed at or made fun off if they don’t go along with what they’re peers are doing. Others go along because they are curious to try something new that others are doing. The idea that “everyone’s doing it” can influence some people to leave their better judgment, or their common sense, behind.

If you feel pressured by people to do things you’re uncomfortable doing, there are ways to respond.

Walk away from peer pressure

It is tough to be the only one who says “no” to peer pressure, but you can do it. Paying attention to your own feelings and beliefs about what is right and wrong can help you decide the right thing to do. Inner strength and self-confidence can help you stand firm, walk away, and resist doing something when you know better.

It can really help to have at least one other peer, or friend, who is willing to say “no,” too. This takes a lot of the power out of peer pressure and makes it much easier to resist. It’s great to have friends with values like yours who will back you up when you don’t want to do something.

WAYS TO SAY NO

It can be hard to say “no” to your peers, especially when they’re all joining in an activity. Sometimes it can feel like you must do what they tell you to be accepted. It can make you feel scared and alone. It’s not okay for your friends to pressure you like this and it’s not your fault. Try these tips to help you say “no” in uncomfortable situations:

  • Say ‘no’ like you mean it

The most basic way to respond to peer pressure is to just say ‘no.’ Standing up to peer pressure will save you the trouble of getting pressured again in the future because it sends a clear message that you’re not interested.

  • Say it with confidence

Be assertive. Practice saying “no” so it’s easier when someone asks. Avoid situations which feel unsafe or uncomfortable.

  • Suggest something else to do

If you are uncomfortable with what your peers are doing, suggest something else you could do instead.

How to deal with peer pressure

  • Make your own decisions

Do things that make you happy and make those decisions on your own. While some people might ask you to do something that pushes you out of your comfort zone in a good way, be mindful of any negative consequences that could occur.

If you’re going to decide about something, ask yourself, “Is this good for me? Is this adding something positive to my life? Am I certain how I feel about it? Don’t make decisions based on what other people think is good for you or what they want you to do.

  • Plan a response

Whether you haven’t experienced peer pressure yet or you want to respond better for next time, think of a response you can use if you’re ever asked something you don’t want to do. Having a response ready will mean you won’t feel under pressure if you’re asked and you’ll already know what to say.

  • Select positive friends

When dealing with peer pressure, start by choosing friends who won’t pressure you to do things. Your friends should accept you for who you are without wanting to change you. If your friends don’t make bad decisions, then you’re less likely to make them too. Choose friends that you like, not because they’re ‘cool’ or popular. They should like you for who you are not trying to change you. Try meeting people who share common interests with you. 

  • Choose a different friend group

Think about your good interactions versus your bad interactions. If you feel like your friends pressure you too much, find a new group to hang around with.