Peer pressure is the direct influence on people by peers, or the effect on an individual who gets encouraged to follow their peers by changing their attitudes, values, or behaviors to conform to those of the influencing group or individual. This type of pressure differs from general social pressure because it causes an individual to change in response to a feeling of being pressured or influenced from a peer or peer group.
If you feel pressured by people to do things you’re uncomfortable doing, there are lots of ways on to deal with peer pressure. Be prepared to deal with peer pressure by having a response ready. Avoid places where people do illegal activities or other things you feel uncomfortable around. Lean on people for support, like your friends, family, or a therapist.
How to respond to peer pressure in a moment
- Say ‘no’ like you mean it
The most basic way to respond to peer pressure is to just say ‘no.’ Standing up to peer pressure will save you the trouble of getting pressured again in the future because it sends a clear message that you’re not interested. Be firm and make eye contact. This shows that you’re not willing to compromise. Be careful not to get baited into doing something by being called “scared” or “a chicken.” Stay firm in your own decision.
- Change the subject.
There are lots of ways to resist peer pressure. If you’re uncomfortable responding to something, change the subject. By changing the subject, you can put off the question until you feel ready to respond or not respond at all. Avoiding the situation might even send the message that you’re just interested and don’t want to respond.
- Make an excuse to leave.
Another option is to get out of the situation by leaving. Make an excuse for why you need to leave quickly. Apologize and get away as soon as you can.
Anticipating Peer Pressure
- Make your own decisions
Don’t make decisions based on what other people think is good for you or what they want you to do. Do things that make you happy and make those decisions on your own. While some people might ask you to do something that pushes you outside your comfort zone in a good way, be mindful of any negative consequences that could occur.
If you’re about to make a decision, ask yourself, “Is this good for me? Is this adding something positive to my life? Am I certain how I feel about it?”
- Plan a response
Whether you haven’t experienced peer pressure yet or you want to respond better for next time, think of a response you can use if you’re ever asked something you don’t want to do. Having a response ready will mean you won’t feel under pressure if you’re asked and you’ll already know what to say.
- Avoid places and situations that make you uncomfortable
By avoiding situations that might tempt you, you can avoid peer pressure altogether.
- Choose positive friends
When dealing with peer pressure, start by choosing friends who won’t pressure you do things. Your friends should accept you for who you are without wanting to change you. If your friends don’t make bad decisions, you’re less likely to make them, too.