Have you ever done something just because you wanted to fit in? Even if you didn’t act on it, you’ve probably experienced the pressure to conform to what everyone else is doing. That feeling is called peer pressure.
Your peers include your friends and other people who share your age, experience and/or interests. Whether they’re classmates, teammates, people in your church or kids from your neighborhood, all of your peers can have an influence on you.
Peer pressure isn’t necessarily bad. Your peers can influence you to do good things—like teammates pushing you to be better at sports, or classmates motivating you to improve your grades—but sometimes your peers can, intentionally or not, influence you to do bad things—like shoplifting, drinking or doing drugs.
But you don’t have to give into peer pressure. It may seem like you have to do certain things to fit in and sometimes those things are harmless. But it’s important to remember who you are as a person, and to avoid doing things that go against your own beliefs.
The question is, how do you do that? Keep reading for tips on how you can spot peer pressure—and keep yourself from giving in.
Types of peer pressure
As TeensHealth.org points out, peer pressure can be direct—like someone saying, “Have a beer! Everyone else is drinking.”—but it can also be indirect, like inviting you to a party where alcohol is available.
Peer pressure can also be subtle. For example, someone doesn’t have to tell you, “Skipping class is cool!” If a group of friends you want to hang out with makes plans to go to the mall during class, you’ll likely feel pressure to join them.
How to avoid negative peer pressure
No matter the type of peer pressure you face (direct, indirect, subtle), it can be hard to resist. But it is possible! And resisting is definitely something you want to do when you feel pressure to do something that’s not right. Here are some ways to avoid peer pressure—and resist giving into it:
- Be wary of new people: Making new friends is fun, but when you’re socializing with a group you’re new to, it can be hard to tell if you can trust them. You don’t have to be paranoid or completely avoid certain people, but get to know them outside of risky activities before you adapt to activities that are the norm for them. When you meet someone new, it’s a good idea to have lunch with them at school a couple of times, or hang out at their house before you go with a group of peers to a house party—where you might face additional peer pressure.
- Stay sober: Drugs and alcohol can impair your judgment and make you more likely to do other risky things in order to fit in. Avoiding these substances will help you keep a clear head and make better choices.
- Be confident: Know what you stand for and where you want to go in life. That way, when you’re faced with pressure to do something that’s not right for you, you’ll know the reason why. For example, if you want to get good grades, it’s probably not right for you to skip class—you may miss an important lesson.
- Just say “no”: It’s easier said than done, but having the confidence to simply say ‘no’ when you’re in an uncomfortable situation is sometimes all it takes.
For more information on peer pressure, check out the links below.