Peer pressure is feeling that we have to do something because a friend or group of friends says so - even if we don’t want to do it.
Sometimes, peer pressure can be a good thing (e.g. when a friend suggests a good TV show to watch or encourages you to read a good book, etc.)
However, being pressured to lose weight, look or behave a certain way, bully other people, drink alcohol, take drugs or anything else that makes you feel uncomfortable is not healthy.
Here are a few tips for dealing with peer pressure among your friends:
Trust your gut
If your friends want you to do something that you don’t feel good about, listen to your instincts. Feeling uncomfortable about something, even if your friends are fine with it, is a sign that the situation is not for you.
Suggest other activities
If you’d prefer not to say “no” directly, consider proposing other activities that you’re all interested in. Suggesting something like going to the cinema or playing football in a nearby park might deflect from the pressure you’re feeling.
Try to feel comfortable saying 'no'
If your friends are pressuring you frequently, put a stop to it by saying “no”. You don’t need to be aggressive or confrontational.
You can simply say: “I’m not really into that” or “I’d rather do something else”. If you’re scared of saying “no”, try practicing what you’re going to say at home first.
Good friends won’t ask you to explain or apologise for not wanting to do something. However, if you feel the need to have an excuse, think of something you can say before meeting them.
Something like, “No thanks, I’m training for an athletics competition next week” or “I’m trying to be really healthy this month” might work.
Know your boundaries
People make mistakes, and your friends might not have realised the pressure they were putting you under.
By saying “no”, you expressed your boundaries to the rest of the group while respecting their choices. In turn, they should respect yours.
Hang out with people who respect you
If your group of friends put pressure on you all the time, or it feels toxic to be around them, it might be time to move on. Seek out other friends who respect your individuality and support you.
It takes a lot of confidence to say no to peer pressure. If you feel nervous or uncertain, Childline is always here to listen. You can chat online at Childline.ie, send a text to 50101 or call 1800 66 66 66, 24 hours a day, every day.
If you’d like to read more about topics like this, check out the following articles:
5 signs you’re a people pleaser
Bullying and the role of the bystander
Do you struggle to make friends? Here are a few things that might help