Peer pressure

What is peer pressure?

Is peer pressure a bad thing?
Peer pressure is when people that are the same age as you, in other words, your peers, influence you to do something. This can happen when you feel like you are expected to behave or for example dress in a specific way to be accepted, when someone tells you to do something or when you want to do something that someone else does. 

Peer pressure can be good or bad. Positive peer pressure is when you learn new things from your peers that make your life better, for example, a friend that is good with Maths invites you to the extra Maths lesson or you try to be more organised because you can see that the organised child in the class is doing well in school. 

Negative peer pressure is when you are pressured into doing something that you know is wrong, that you need to hide from your teachers/parents or that puts your health or safety at risk. This can be something like skipping class, smoking, drinking or bullying others. 
How to handle negative peer pressure:

  1. Trust your gut feeling to determine if something is right or wrong. Usually, deep down you know.
  2. If you are unsure, find someone you trust and ask their opinion. This can be someone in your peer group or an adult. 
  3. If you are in a group that constantly puts negative peer pressure on you, it might be time to change the friends you hang out with. 
  4. Walk away if you feel like the situation is getting out of control or dangerous. Take yourself out of the situation.
  5. Get someone who feels the same to take a stand with you or back the friend who is brave enough to say no. 
  6. Surround yourself with friends that have the same values. 
  7. Say no like you mean it and be prepared to say it a few times. Sometimes making a joke about it might make the situation less uncomfortable. 
  8. Avoid situations where you know you will be pressured into doing something you don’t want to, for example, a party without adult supervision. 
  9. Focus on what you are doing well. If you have a good self-esteem you have a better chance of resisting peer pressure and you can impress your friends with something positive.
  10. A friend, parent, teacher or school counsellor can help you stand up against negative peer pressure. Seek help if you feel like you can’t do it alone. 
  11. Don’t pressure others the way you don’t want to be pressured. 

Things parents can do to help
  1. Good communication with your child is key. Talk about the things that are important to them.
  2. Teach your kids right from wrong, Children need clear rules and they should know what the consequences would be for breaking the rules. 
  3. Teach your children that it’s their responsibility to choose good friends and that their choice will impact their behaviour. You can’t choose their friends for them.
  4. Get to know their friends.
  5. Role play with them some situations where they feel like they experience peer pressure and the possible ways they could get out of the situation. 
  6. Make sure your child knows that they can call you any time to come and fetch them.
  7. If a friend has a very negative influence on your child and your child can’t get out of the friendship on their own, it’s your responsibility to take charge. You can discuss it with your child’s friend first to see if the situation improves.
  8. Be realistic and know that they will make mistakes. Don’t overreact when they do otherwise your child will just stop telling you about their mistakes. 
  9. Be a good role model, show your kids that you can say “No�? when you are being pressured into doing something you don’t want to do. They will only know how to do this politely but firmly if they have seen it being done before. 

You might want to read about being the odd one out or part of the crowd.