So what is peer pressure?
It is not uncommon to want to be a part of a group and feel like we belong in our community. Peers influence your life, even if you don’t realize it, just by spending time with you. You learn from them, and they learn from you. It’s only human nature to listen to and learn from other people in your age group. Peer pressure can happen when we are influenced to do something by our peer group. The ability to develop healthy friendships and peer relationships depends on a person’s self-identity, self-esteem, and self-reliance. The need for acceptance, approval, and belonging is vital during a person’s development from nursery to young adult.
What is a peer group?
Look around you when you go out! A peer group is made up of people who are around your age, who are in your class, play the same sport or even live within the same community. They are important as they contribute to making us feel good or bad about ourselves. Because of this, you may experience peer pressure within any of these groups.
Did you know that peer pressure can also be a good thing?
Yes! Peer pressure can be good. This is called Positive Peer Pressure. At its best, peer pressure can mobilize your energy, motivate you for success, and encourage you to conform to healthy behaviour. Peers can and do act as positive role models. Peers can also demonstrate appropriate social behaviours.
Your friends can help to make you do good things too such as:
- Convincing you to enter an event at Sports Day
- Discouraging you from doing something wrong like talking while the teacher is talking or littering
- Pressuring you to play a game they think you would enjoy
- Encouraging you to study and/or assisting you with studying when you don’t understand something
- Reminding you of tests and assignments that you may have forgotten
Peer Pressure can also be Negative
The need for acceptance, approval, and belonging is vital from childhood years to being a young adult. Persons who feel isolated or rejected by their peers — or in their family — are more likely to engage in risky behaviours in order to fit in / be accepted by a group. In such situations, peer pressure can impair good judgment and fuel risk-taking behaviour, drawing you away from your family and positive influences and luring you into dangerous activities. Your friends may influence (talk you into doing) things that you usually would not do like:
- Cheating on a test
- Stop you from doing good things like giving lost money to your parents or teachers
- Making fun of other people (bullying)
- Smoking a cigarette or drinking alcohol
- Skipping class
- Skipping school
Ways to fight Peer Pressure
When people try to pressure you into doing something you don’t want to do, you can:
- Say no!
- Pretend (act like) you did not hear.
- Tell an adult about what they are doing
- Try to make them do the right thing
And remember, someone that is really your friend and cares about you will not want to see you in trouble and will always want what’s best for you. So, if they don’t want the best for you then they are not your friend!