Peer Pressure

Young women's version of this guide
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Teenage Boy Feeling Intimidated As He Walks HomeSometimes your friends may ask you to do things that you’re not comfortable with. You’re not alone; peer pressure is something we all face. Read on to learn more about peer pressure.

Who are my peers?

A peer is someone who is around your age – it could be a friend, family member, classmate, or a neighbor.

What is peer pressure?

Peer pressure is when a peer (or peers) try to influence, or “pressure” you into doing something that you may not want to do. They may try to convince you to use drugs, drink alcohol, listen to a particular type of music, or change your looks.

Is all peer pressure bad?

Not all peer pressure is bad. It can be positive. Your peers may push you to do well in school, eat healthier, or participate in school activities such as sports or clubs. They may pressure you not to smoke or do drugs, or may encourage you to do something that’s good for you.

How does peer pressure work?

Your friends may challenge you to do something – good or bad. They may use guilt, threats, or insults to make you do what they want. They might not ask you to do anything, but you may feel you have to do something because your friends are doing it.

Here are examples of two situations that involve peer pressure:

  • You’re at a party, and a group of your friends are hanging out. Some of them are drinking alcohol, and others are smoking marijuana. You feel that in order to fit in, you also have to drink/smoke, even though you don’t really want to.
  • Your classmate tells you to cut class, and you tell him that don’t want to. He replies “Don’t be scared, we’re not going to get caught”.

Why does peer pressure work?

Peer pressure works because we want to be liked by others and we want to be included. We may give in to pressure because of the fear of being made fun of or rejected. Sometimes we just don’t know how to deal with the situation, so we do what others tell us to do.

What should I do when I am being peer pressured into doing something I don’t feel comfortable doing?

Here are some ways you can deal with peer pressure:

  • Think about your choices – What would happen if you do it? What if you don’t?
  • Have self-confidence
  • Follow your instincts (If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right for you.)
  • Be assertive
  • Say what you think
  • Talk about what you feel
  • Say no
  • Suggest a healthier alternative
  • If you’re still being pressured, walk away
  • Stay away from those who pressure you
  • Hang out with people whose choices make you feel more comfortable

Who can I talk to about peer pressure?

Go to someone who you trust. It could be a sibling, parent/guardian, other family member, friend, coach, health care provider, or clergy member. Talk to them and tell them how you feel, and ask them to help you come up with some ways to deal with peer pressure.

If you’re concerned peer pressure, here’s a tip on how to bring it up with your provider: “Sometimes I feel pressure to do things I’m not comfortable with. How can I handle this?”