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Coping with Peer Pressure

Coping with Peer Pressure, negative peer pressure

Most people know what peer pressure is. It occurs at any age and entails doing something because you want to feel accepted by your friends. Peer pressure can be positive or negative, encouraging you toward healthy or detrimental actions. Either way, it’s powerful, and negative peer pressure, especially in adolescents, is highly dangerous and can even be life-threatening. 

There are plenty of commercials and movies about how teens can deal with negative peer pressure. Many of them advise to “just say no.” While that’s not wrong, it’s not always easy to stand up for yourself, especially when it might lead to rejection. So what steps can teens take to manage peer pressure? Here are some suggestions:

Know & Like Yourself

Peer pressure is powerful because we so badly want to be valued by our friends. So the best way to mitigate the effects of peer pressure is to highly value your own self and well-being. When you know what you like and need, you aren’t so easily swayed to do things you don’t want to do. 

For example, if someone hands you a vape, you could say, “No way. I don’t want to smell like that all day.” Or, you could simply say, “No, I’m not into that stuff.” Then, leave it at that. You don’t have to explain. Your mental health should be your priority.

Delay Your Response

Not everyone is going to be able to just say no. If you’re feeling pressured and not sure how to respond, give yourself time to think. You could say, “I don’t know. I need to think about it.” Then, you can gather your thoughts and practice how you will respond if someone pressures you again. Or, you could call a friend or family member for their advice and support.

Repeat Yourself When You Need To

Unfortunately, peer pressure is often based on this premise that if they push you enough, you’ll eventually give in. In this situation, you may have to tell the other person no more than once. Don’t let them influence the way you think or what you believe. State your position clearly. “I said no, and I mean it. You’re not going to change my mind.”

Get Out of the Situation

There are times when peer pressure can be so intense that it makes it very hard to think clearly. In these situations, opt for escape. Go to the bathroom. Pretend you’re getting an important phone call. Or just walk away and call someone you trust to take you home. By leaving the area, you are breaking that intensity of the situation – allowing yourself to clear your head and become calm. Your actions might break the intensity for others, too, preventing someone else from becoming a victim of peer pressure.

Avoid Risky Situations Altogether

If you know there’s going to be a party with drugs or alcohol, make an excuse to skip it. If you have a small group of friends who tend to behave in risky ways, spend less time with them and focus on developing friendships with people you can fully trust and feel safe with. 

Don’t Go It Alone

If you know you’ll be with people who will try to pressure you, try to take a friend who can resist the pressure with you. Engage in activities that are in public where there is less risk of feeling pressured to do things you don’t want to do. Having a friend you can call if you’re stuck in a bad situation is also important. Give yourself an ally, and be an ally for someone else. 

Resisting Negative Peer Pressure Is Hard but Worth It

You know what you believe. You know what you don’t want to do. Stand your ground and maintain your status. At the same time, don’t beat yourself if you give in to pressure. If you get in trouble or feel like you’re heading toward trouble, reach out for help to a trusted adult. 

If you’re a parent of a teen who is struggling, know that help is available. At Willow Creek Behavioral Health, we are here to offer support to your family. We work with adolescents and adults who have behavioral and mental health issues that they are unable to manage on their own. Contact us now.

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