Peer pressure (for teens) - Nemours KidsHealth (2023)

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  • "Now!" Suki whispered. "Quick while the clerk isn't looking."

    Heart pounding, Leah leaned against the store's freestanding makeup window and slipped two tubes of lipstick into her bag. She seemed bored and distant as she followed her friends Suki and Jill out of the store, but on the inside she was terrified.

    "I can't believe you made me do this," Leah wailed.

    "Relax," Jill said. "Everybody does it sometimes. And we don't make you do it."

    She didn't say anything, but Leah knew she wouldn't have done it alone. She had just received a heavy dose of peer pressure.

    Who are your companions?

    As a child, his parents often chose his friends, put him in playgroups, or paired playtime with certain children they knew and liked. Now that you're older, you decide who your friends are and what groups you hang out with.

    Your friends, your peers, are people your age or close to you who have similar experiences and interests to you. You and your friends make dozens of decisions every day, influencing each other's choices and behaviors. In general, this is a good thing: it's human nature to listen and learn from others in your age group.

    As you become more independent, your peers will naturally play a larger role in your life. Because school and other activities take you away from home, you may spend more time with your peers than with your parents and siblings. He is likely to develop close friendships with some of his peers, and he may feel so connected to them that they are like extended family.

    In addition to close friends, your peers include other children you know who are the same age, such as people from your class, church, sports team, or community. These peers also influence you by the way they dress and act, the things they are involved in, and the attitudes they display.

    It is natural for people to identify and compare themselves with their peers when considering who they want to be (or think they should be) or what they want to achieve. People are influenced by their peers because they want to fit in, be like the peers they admire, do what others do, or have what others have.

    Page 1

    Peer influence isn't all bad

    You know that adolescence can be difficult. You are discovering who you are, what you believe in, what you are good at, what your responsibilities are, and what your place in the world will be.

    It is comforting to face these challenges with friends who like the same things as you. But you probably listen to adults: parents, teachers, counselors, etc. - talk more about peer pressure than the benefits of belonging to a peer group.

    You may not hear much about it, but colleagues have a profoundly positive influence on each other and play important roles in each other's lives:

    • Amistad.Among peers, you can find friendship and acceptance and share experiences that can build lasting bonds.
    • positive examples.Peers set many good examples for one another. Having peers committed to doing well in school or doing their best in a sport can also make you more goal oriented. Colleagues who are kind and loyal influence you to develop these qualities in yourself. Even colleagues you've never met can be role models! For example, watching someone her age compete in the Olympics, give a piano concert, or lead a community project might inspire her to pursue a dream.
    • Comments and advice.Your friends listen and provide feedback as you experiment with new ideas, explore beliefs, and discuss problems. Peers can also help you make decisions: which courses to take; whether to cut your hair, let it grow or dye it; How to deal with a family argument. Colleagues often give each other good advice. Your friends will tell you quickly when they think you're making a mistake or doing something risky.
    • Socializing.Your peer group gives you the opportunity to try new soft skills. Meeting many different people, such as classmates or teammates, gives you the opportunity to learn how to expand your circle of friends, build relationships, and resolve differences. You may have peers you agree or disagree with, compete with, or team up with peers you admire and don't want to be the same as.
    • Cheer up.Peers encourage you to work hard to make it on your own on the show, help you study, listen and support you when you are upset or in trouble, and sympathize with you when you experience similar difficulties.
    • New experiences.Your peers may involve you in clubs, sports, or religious groups. Your world would be a lot less rich without peers encouraging you to try sushi for the first time, listening to a CD you've never heard before, or offering moral support when you audition for the school play.
    Page 2

    When the pressure is on

    Sometimes, however, the stress in your life can come from your peers. You may be pressured to do something that makes you uncomfortable, such as shoplifting, using drugs or drinking, taking dangerous risks while driving, or having sex before you feel ready.

    This pressure can be expressed overtly ("Oh come on, it's just one beer and everyone has one") or more indirectly, by simply making the beer available at a party, for example.

    Most of the peer pressure is less easy to define. Sometimes a group can make subtle signals without saying anything at all, letting you know to dress or talk a certain way or take specific attitudes toward the school, other students, parents, and teachers in order to gain acceptance and approval.

    The pressure to conform (to do what others are doing) can be powerful and hard to resist. A person may feel pressured to do something simply because others do it (or say they do it). Peer pressure can influence a person to do something relatively harmless, or something that has more serious consequences. Giving in to the pressure to dress a certain way is one thing, going with the crowd for a drink or a smoke is another.

    People may feel pressured to conform in order to fit in or be accepted, or to not feel uncomfortable or uncomfortable. When people aren't sure what to do in a social situation, they naturally look to others for clues as to what is and is not acceptable.

    People who are most easily influenced will first follow someone else's lead. So others might agree as well, so it can be easy to think, "That must be fine. Everyone else is doing this. They must know what they're doing." Before you know it, many people are following the crowd, perhaps towards something they might not otherwise.

    Responding to peer pressure is part of human nature, but some people are more likely to give in and others are better able to resist and hold their own. People with low confidence and those who tend to follow rather than lead are more likely to seek approval from their peers by giving in to a risky challenge or suggestion. People who are insecure, new to the group, or inexperienced with peer pressure may also be more likely to give in.

    Using alcohol or drugs increases the chances that someone will give in to peer pressure. Substance use impairs judgment and interferes with the ability to make good decisions.

    Page 3

    pressure pointers

    Almost everyone ends up in a sticky peer pressure situation at some point. No matter how wisely you choose your friends, or how well you think you know them, sooner or later you will have to make difficult and unpopular decisions. It could be something as simple as resisting the pressure to spend your hard-earned babysitting money on the latest MP3 player "everyone" has. Or it could mean taking a position that makes you seem boring to your group.

    But these situations can be opportunities to find out what's best for you. There is no magic to dealing with peer pressure, but it takes courage, yours:

    • Listen to your gut. If you feel uncomfortable even though your friends seem to agree with what is happening, it means that there is something in the situation that is not right for you. This type of decision making is part of becoming self-sufficient and learning more about who you are.
    • Plan for possible pressure situations. If you'd like to go to a party but think you might be offered alcohol or drugs, think about how you'll handle that challenge. Decide in advance, and even rehearse, what you are going to say and do. Learn some tricks. If you're holding a bottle of water or a can of soda, for example, you're less likely to be offered a drink you don't want.
    • Come up with a "rescue" catchphrase that you can use on your parents without losing face with your peers. You can call home from a party where you are feeling pressured to drink alcohol and say, for example, "Can you come and take me home? I have a terrible earache."
    • Learn to be comfortable saying "no." With good friends, you should never explain or apologize. But if you feel like you need an excuse to, say, turn down a drink or smoke, think of a few lines you can use informally. You can always say, "No thanks, I have a karate belt test next week and I'm training" or "No way, my uncle just died of cirrhosis and I'm not even looking for drinks."
    • Date people who feel the same as you. Choose friends who will talk to you when you need moral support, and be quick to stand up for a friend in the same way. If you're listening to that little voice telling you that a situation isn't right, chances are other people are listening too. Just having another person on your side against peer pressure makes it much easier for both people to resist.
    • Blame your parents: "Are you kidding? If my mom found out, she would kill me, and her spies are everywhere."
    • If a situation seems dangerous, don't hesitate to ask an adult for help.

    It's not always easy to resist negative peer pressure, but when you do, it's easy to feel good afterward. And you can even be a positive influence on your colleagues who feel the same way; often it only takes one person to speak up or take a different action to change a situation. Your friends can follow you if you dare to do something different or refuse to follow the group. Consider yourself a leader and know that you have the potential to make a difference.


    How does peer pressure affect teenagers? ›

    Negative peer pressure is often related to influencing bullying behaviours, drinking alcohol, drug use and negative body image, all of which are harmful to a child or young person's wellbeing. The effects of such behaviours can decrease self-confidence, self-worth and distancing from family members and friends.

    What are 4 causes of peer pressure? ›

    The causes of peer pressure
    • A desire to 'fit in. '
    • To avoid rejection and gain social acceptance.
    • Hormonal inconsistencies.
    • Personal/social confusion and/or anxiety.
    • A lack of structure at home.

    What are the main causes of peer pressure? ›

    The causes of peer pressure include the need to fit in, low self-esteem, fear of rejection, and at most time the need to feel safety and security from peers. The effects of peer pressure can be negative and also have the worst outcomes. Peer pressure is most commonly found in the ages of 12-19 years old.

    What are 5 common peer pressure techniques? ›

    Some examples of negative peer pressure are:
    • Needing to dress or act a certain way.
    • Cheating or copying someone else's work or letting others copy your work.
    • Not including certain people in social activities.
    • Taking dangerous risks when driving.
    • Using drugs or alcohol.
    • Shoplifting or stealing.

    What are the 5 strategies to survive peer pressure? ›

    20 Ways to Avoid Peer Pressure
    • Ask 101 questions. ...
    • Say “No” like you mean it. ...
    • Back-up a no with a positive statement. ...
    • Be repetitive. ...
    • Practice saying no. ...
    • Get away from the pressure zone. ...
    • Avoid stressful situations in the first place. ...
    • Use the buddy system.

    What are 2 warning signs of peer pressure? ›

    The following are warning signs that you or someone you know may be experiencing peer pressure:
    • Drop in school performance, skipping classes or cheating.
    • Spends more time with a new group of friends.
    • Changes in clothing style or color, jewelry and makeup.
    • Becomes more secretive, withdrawn or sullen.

    What are 5 warning signs of peer pressure? ›

    Warning signs include:
    • low moods, tearfulness or feelings of hopelessness.
    • aggression or antisocial behaviour that's not usual for your child.
    • sudden changes in behaviour, often for no obvious reason.
    • trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking early.
    • loss of appetite or over-eating.
    • reluctance to go to school.
    Nov 3, 2021

    How do you avoid peer pressure? ›

    Try these tips for staying strong and not giving into peer pressure:
    1. A confident 'no thanks' or 'not for me'
    2. Using humour to deflect pressure or attention.
    3. Move away from the situation.
    4. Be direct and say you don't appreciate feeling pressured.
    5. Get support and talk to someone you trust.

    Who is most affected by peer pressure? ›

    In a Temple University study addressing the relationship between age and resistance to peer pressure, researchers found that children are the most vulnerable to peer pressure between the ages of 10 and 14.

    What does psychology say about peer pressure? ›

    Peer pressure is a well-known psychological effect. People adjust their opinions and behaviors to fit within the group. The origin of this effect can be found in prehistory when fitting within the herd was necessary to survive. Currently it is often associated with adolescence copying smoking and drinking behavior.

    What is a positive impact of peer pressure? ›

    Positive effects of peer pressure include: a sense of belonging and support. increased self-confidence. introduction to positive hobbies and interests.

    What are the two types of peer pressure? ›

    Direct And Indirect Peer Pressure

    Direct Peer Pressure — being put in a position to make on-the-spot decisions. Direct peer pressure is normally behavior-centric, like having alcohol forced on you when you're known not to drink. Indirect Peer Pressure —indirect peer pressure is subtle but can still be toxic.

    What are 3 of the peer pressure refusal strategies? ›

    Show them that they can trust you. Resist being with people that are making bad choices. Become active in things to meet new people & learn new skills. Don't be afraid to ask for help from someone you trust!

    What are the tools for peer pressure? ›

    Here are a few tools to help you teach your child about peer pressure.
    • Talk to your child about the influences of the media. ...
    • Be a good role model. ...
    • Talk to your child about the people and things that influence him. ...
    • Involve your child in a community that supports your values.
    May 31, 2013

    What is the most common peer pressure? ›

    When the Pressure's On. Sometimes, though, the stresses in your life can actually come from your peers. They may pressure you into doing something you're uncomfortable with, such as shoplifting, doing drugs or drinking, taking dangerous risks when driving a car, or having sex before you feel ready.

    What are four example of negative peer pressure? ›

    Negative Peer Pressure

    Convincing a friend to skip school. Encouraging a peer to fight or bully someone. Getting friends to engage in sexting. Pressuring a friend to drink or try drugs.

    What is the most powerful form of peer pressure? ›

    Direct Peer Pressure

    Among the different types of peer pressure, direct influences may be among the most powerful. Direct peer pressure can either be spoken or unspoken, and it can include forcing a person to choose a path based on what is directly presented to them.

    What are the five types of peer groups? ›

    The studies reviewed suggest that adolescent peer groups consist of five general categories differentiable by lifestyle characteristics: Elites, Athletes, Academics, Deviants, and Others.


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