Peer pressure is one thing that all teens have in common. You can't escape it; it is everywhere. No matter how popular you are, how well liked you may be or how together you feel, sooner or later you will have to face peer pressure.
Whether it is pressure to conform to a group norm or pressure to act a certain way peer pressure is something everybody has to deal with at some time in their life. How successfully you handle peer pressure depends a great deal on how you feel about yourself and your place in the world.
Peer Pressure Risk Factors
There are certain risk factors for peer pressure, personality traits that make you more prone to give in to pressure. The traits that put you at higher risk for falling in to the peer pressure trap include:
- low self esteem
- lack of confidence
- uncertainty about ones place within a given peer group
- no personal interests exclusive of one's peer group
- feeling isolated from peers and/or family
- poor academic abilities or performance
- fear of one's peers
- lack of strong ties to friends
- feeling that friends could turn on you
- close bond with a bully
Handling Peer Pressure
How do you prepare to face peer pressure and win? There are many things you can do. Prepare a mental script of how you would like to deal with uncomfortable situations. Script out the reaction you want to have in a given situation and play that script out in your head over and over again.
Know where you stand on key issues like sex, drugs and alcohol and do not allow anybody to make you deviate from your position. Never be afraid to speak up and let others know your boundaries. You may get a bit of teasing at first but most people respect the boundaries of others when they know what they are.
Never take part in any bullying. Making other people feel bad or sad is a terrible way to try to fit in. Flatly refuse to take part in anything designed to cause harm or distress to another person and speak up if such a situation arises. You do not have to be angry or confrontational but one person standing up for what is right is usually enough to inspire others to follow.
Think of yourself as a leader and act accordingly. The more you see yourself in a leadership role the more comfortable you will feel asserting your own opinions and feelings.
Always Be Comfortable With Your Choices
When ugly situations arise and peer pressure kicks in to high gear it is very easy to get caught up in the moment and forget that you will have to live with the choices you make. If you give in and do something that is contrary to your character or core value system it will cause you distress later and you will feel regret.
When peer pressure rears its ugly head try to focus on how you feel about what is happening rather than getting caught up in the crowd. Always stand up for what you think is right.
Some people may not like it when you go against the group but doing the right thing is rewarding. Peer pressure only works if you let it, if you refuse to let it intimidate you it loses its power. The secret is to be assertive without becoming preachy or self-righteous. Stand your ground but refrain from standing on a soap box. Remember, peer pressure can only win if you let it.
Cope With Peer Pressure
Peer pressure is a natural part of life. Everyone is influenced by the people around them. Peer pressure affects people of all ages. It can be both positive and negative. While positive peer pressure can keep you on the right track, negative peer pressure can lead you down the wrong path. Follow these steps to cope with all peer pressure.
- Know who you are. Develop a strong sense of identity. Be clear about what you want out of life. If you are sure about your values, then you will be less likely to compromise them for someone else. It is easier to cope with negative peer pressure when it is in opposition to your beliefs.
- Build your self-esteem. Feeling bad about yourself makes you more vulnerable to peer pressure. Take good care of yourself. Set goals and celebrate your accomplishments. Participate in activities that make you more confident.
- Trust your instincts. No one knows what is right for you more than you. If something feels wrong, then chances are that it is. Your intuition is a great tool. Heed its warnings to make good choices and cope with peer pressure.
- Surround yourself with like-minded people. Everyone needs a support system. If your confidants are people who wouldn't steer you in the wrong direction, then that's one less source of negative peer pressure for you to worry about. Those same people will be there for you when you experience peer pressure from elsewhere.
- Learn to say "no." Everyone wants acceptance, but your need for approval should not make decisions for you. Exercise your freedom of choice to cope with peer pressure and avoid creating resentment. Compromise is a part of every relationship, but people pleasing can be detrimental to your well being.
How to resist peer pressure
Everyone has, at some point, succumbed to peer pressure during their school years. We all remember the hardships we faced, the bullies we dealt with, and the friends we made. One of the hardest issues to handle in school is peer pressure. It's easy to lose your true identity when trying to make friends. However, below are a few simple steps to help you stay true to who you are.
- Peer Pressure Issue Number 1: To Buy or Not to Buy?
One of the easiest ways people try to influence you is by saying "Ew, I would never wear that!" or "Everyone has one, you really need to get one!" When you enter the store with a group of friends and instantly see what you think is the best thing in the whole world, and then your friend says "That's ugly," what do you do? You can either buy it anyway or walk away silently. But why should you walk away? Who really cares about only one person's opinion on something you really like? Just because the item may be unique, doesn't mean it's not worth owning. Just block out all thoughts of "What will everyone say?" and choose it because on your opinion alone.
- Peer Pressure Issue Number 2: To Date or Not to Date?
Along the way of middle and high school comes the dating situation. While you may be perfectly happy sitting at home on Friday nights with your family or friends, watching movies, everyone else may not. At points your friends may question your love life and ask why you don't date anyone. They may even ask if there's something wrong with you. Now, if you like a certain someone, go for it. But if you aren't comfortable beginning to date, then don't. Your life love starts when you want it to. Don't be pressured into dating someone to make sure friends forget the issue. If it's too hard to explain why you don't want to date, just make a simple excuse such as "My parent's want me to wait." Your life schedule is on your watch, not theirs.
- Peer Pressure Issue Number 3: To Cheat or Not to Cheat?
When a big test or exam comes around the corner, you may spend nights locked up in your room studying. After all the hard work you put in, you're ready to ace this test! Then your friend whispers, "Can you help me out? I was so busy I didn't study at all. Could you just give me a few answers?" While this may be a time when you crumble under the thoughts of your friend hating you and spreading rumors, don't. There are many problems with this situation. One of the problems is that you put effort into this and your friend didn't. Why should your friend get to take the easy road while she was doing fun activities the whole time you were studying? Another issue is that cheating is wrong. If you're caught there are some serious consequences. The teacher might fail you on the test, you might get detentions, and maybe even suspended. Is it really worth it. No, of course not. However, to soothe things with your friend, you may have to even out the edges of this situation. You could say something like, "Sorry, but I always see this teacher watching like a hawk. How about for the next test I study with you to make up for it?" Or, "No, I can't help you there since my parents would be furious with me, but just try your best, and if you don't do good, maybe you can retake it. I'll help you study for it next time."
These are only a few basic examples of peer pressure. There are ofther situations, such as your friends looking down on what you eat or that you like hanging out with your family. However, just remember that in a few years time you won't even know these people. Stick true to yourself and don't follow the crowd. Things can go drastically wrong by following peer pressure, and can change your future for the worse. Make goals for yourself before the beginning of the school year and try to not stray far from them. Just remember that there isn't anything wrong with being different.
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