Practical Ways to Deal With Peer Pressure

Jennifer L. Betts
Teens Pressuring Girl to Drink

Peer pressure is a fact of a teen's life. Not only can it affect you in positive and negative ways but "just saying no" is a lot more difficult that it can appear. You don't want to be that one person to be singled out or bullied because you aren't going with the crowd. Learn a few practical and creative ways to deal with different situations where peer pressure might come into play.

Practical Advice for Peer Pressure

Not every person is the same. So, how you'll handle peer pressure compared to how your friend might handle it, will be different. It's going to depend on what you feel comfortable with, your self-esteem and your level of comfort with your friends. You might be more likely to do something sketchy with new friends than with friends you've had forever. It also might depend on the crowd. If you're trying to impress seniors, then you might do something you might not do with your freshman friends. Learn a few ways you can handle peer pressure.

  • Ask questions. Asking others why they are doing something you don't agree with can be a good way to get them to leave you alone.
  • Tell a lie. There comes a time when a lie can be a good thing. If someone is trying to get you into a car with a drunk driver, telling a lie could save your life.
  • Be assertive. A wishy-washy no is going to tell your friends they can convince you. If you are assertive, they know they can't pressure you.
  • Find an alternative. You aren't going to skip school, but you will meet up after. Having an alternative can help you to save face.
  • Use humor. Having a witty comeback can be your saving grace for peer pressure. They will back off and have a laugh too.
  • Be nonchalant. If you act cool while saying no to something, teens are more likely to respect your decision. High school is a dog eat dog world, don't show fear.
  • If in doubt, get out. There's no rule that says you can't leave a situation that you don't agree with.
  • Change the subject. If someone is pressuring you into something, give a short assertive no and change the subject.
  • Be prepared. You are going to come across peer pressure, knowing what you're going to do and doing it, can save you a lot of stress in the long run.

Many teens know what to do, but actually doing it, is where the situation gets dicey. You tell your parents no all the time, but when a senior you have a crush on asks you if you want a smoke, your mouth fills with sand. Telling him no isn't even an option. Looking at different scenarios these methods can be used in, can help you not to be part of the peer pressure statistics.

Do You Wanna Smoke?

You're hanging out with your older crush and his friends at the football game. In a dark part of the parking lot, they all start smoking. Your crush asks you if you want one.

Female high school students smoking a cigarette

What to Do

This is your crush. You want them to like you. Saying no outright might not be an option here. Not only do you want your crush to think your cool but his friends as well. Walking away isn't going to happen either. Isn't the point to get closer? Try using humor. You could crack a joke like, "No thanks, I'm allergic to smoking… I break out in a week of grounding if I get caught." You're still saying no but in a way that might make them all laugh. Plus, if he chuckles, you get to see those cute dimples.

One Won't Hurt You

Against your will, you were dragged to a party by your bestie. Everyone is drinking, you don't want to. Your bestie turns to you and says, "One's not going to hurt you." You know that she wants to impress the people at the party, but this isn't something you want to do.

Managing the Situation

This is your bestie; you should feel comfortable with them. So, you should be able to firmly voice your opinion. Tell them no. Then ask why they want to drink. Use questions like:

  • Why do you want to drink?
  • Can't we have fun without drinking?
  • What good is drinking?
  • Is there a point?

Using questions might take her interest away as well and get her to leave you alone. It would probably also be best to get out of the party as quickly as possible. This is a situation that will escalate quickly, especially if there are lots of underage drinkers. If you drive, take you and your bestie out. If not, a call to your parents might be necessary. They will be proud of you for choosing not to drink and being responsible.

Everyone Does It

You're at the mall with a group of new friends. You notice one of them slip something into their backpack. He sees you notice him and tells you, "It's nothing to worry about everyone does it." He then wants you to give it a try.

What You Should Do

First off, everyone doesn't steal. Secondly, it comes with legal consequences if you get caught. But these are new friends that you want to impress. You don't want to be lame. You might want to try a couple different things. You could change the subject like, "No I'm good, but I'm starving. Wanna find some food?" That will get you out of the store, and hopefully, them forgetting about the fact that you aren't stealing. Since you know that they steal, you might want to rethink your friend prospects. If they steal from a store, they're likely to take from you as well.

Bullying a Friend

You walk into the bathroom and one of your friends is bullying another guy. He looks up, seeing you and smiles. Your friend tries to get you to bully the boy too.

Take a Stand

You know that your friend is a bully, but you're also scared that he might bully you as well. So, taking a firm stand might not be an option. In this scenario, your location can be your best friend. Choose a teacher that you know the kid has problems with and say they were coming down the hall. Most likely this will be enough to make your friend let the other kid leave. If not, you could turn and walk away, discretely getting said teacher.

Comforting friend after being bullied

Having a Plan

Peer pressure happens to everyone. In the case of drugs or alcohol, just trying it once can lead to addiction and even death. Being proactive and having a plan of action ready before you get in to a sticky situation can be the best medicine.

Create a Code

Talking to your parents is the last thing you want to do, but in the face of peer pressure, they can be life savers. To help you avoid dangerous situations, you might set up a code with our parents or someone else you trust. This can work great in a situation where drinking or drugs are involved. Here's how it works.

  • You're at a party and said no to a drink multiple times. The pressure is ranging on bullying now.
  • Text 211, or something similar, to your designated person.
  • They call you stating there is an emergency or some other situation. You need to leave immediately.

This can not only help you to save face, but it could save your life.

Surround Yourself With Good Friends

Friends should have your back. You should also have theirs. Surrounding yourself with good friends that have the same values as you, can make peer pressure a lot easier to deal with. Not only will your friend be there to say no right along with you, but you'll be there for them as well.

Facing Peer Pressure

You never know when negative peer pressure is going to strike. Just know that it can and will happen at some point. Friends that you've known your whole life might try to get you to do something you don't want too or you might do something to impress others. Whatever the case, having a plan of action and knowing ways to deal with peer pressure are vital to making it to adulthood alive.

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Practical Ways to Deal With Peer Pressure