Peer pressure is a form of bullying. It’s a form of threat – either do this thing, or you aren’t “cool” or part of the “in group.” Learning how to resist peer pressure will help you be more confident and help keep you safe.
Peer pressure happens when someone doesn’t want to do something and one of their peers or friends tries to pressure them into doing it.
If you don’t want to do something, don’t do it. This goes for anything really. If you don’t want to have sex, no one should put pressure on your to have sex. Consenting to sex because you were pressured into it – isn’t actually consent. Same with drugs or whatever it is.
Sometimes people are pressured into doing dangerous things, that could get them killed. Peer pressure isn’t just unpleasant and scary – it can also be deadly. Peer pressure is a form of bullying and should be resisted. Learning how can help you feel more confident and help keep you safe and alive.
So – how do you resist peer pressure.
The first step – is to acknowledge you are being pressured. I know this sounds obvious, but it isn’t in the moment. The pressure being put on you makes it hard to think. So – just recognizing your discomfort and labelling it – oh – I’m feeling crappy and scared because I’m being pressured – is often enough – to release that pressure and help you resist it.
The second step is to decide to not give in to the pressure. Just – nope. Not going to do it.
The third step is figuring out what to say when you are being threatened or coerced into doing something you don’t want to do.
Here are some options on things to say to people putting peer pressure on you.
Yell “Peer Pressure!” while pointing at the offender. This is how my friends and I handled it during high school. As soon as someone didn’t accept our “no” we pointed at them and yelled “PEER PRESSURE!” And put the spotlight on them for inappropriately pressuring us and not on us for saying no.
Say, “You first.” If someone says – hey – I dare you to do – whatever the stupid thing that could get you hurt or killed is – say – “You First.” If they refuse, then you are off the hook. If they do the stupid thing – and they say – you should do it to. Feel free to walk away. Just – nope. Not interesting.
Just say “no!” I confess, I grew up in the 1980s and first lady Nancy Reagan told us to just say no to drugs. But it is a good technique. If someone is pressuring you – just say nope. And walk away. If they want to call you a coward, say – that’s fine. Don’t get into their intimidation. If they want to do something stupid and harmful to themselves, that’s their decision. Be smart enough to not join them.
What this call comes down to is – having the confidence in yourself that you don’t need their approval. If you don’t need their approval, they have no power over you. If you think you need their approval – you don’t – and you need to look for other friends. I assure you there are plenty of people in your school who feel alone and scared. You aren’t alone in feeling that way. Don’t allow people to manipulate your fears. Just – acknowledge your fears and then decide to not allow these people to scare you into doing something you don’t want to do.
FYI – My book – the Bully Vaccine can help you deal with getting a bully to stop. But if you want to learn how to be more confident and resist peer pressure – get my book The Humanist Approach to Happiness. I have a whole chapter on this.