Peer Pressure: Yes or No?

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.” – Bruce Lee

Peer pressure is often attached to a negative meaning. However by definition, peer pressure is the natural influence that groups of people have on each other; it can be a force for good or bad, either way, it is powerful (The Nemours Foundation/Kids Health, 2017). Although peer pressure affects all stages of life, it is more common during adolescence. During several other events, the peer pressure saga unfolds within the developmental period in which an adolescent is searching to conquer or determine their identity. Everyone wants to feel a sense of belonging and often people group together because they have common interests or reason in similar ways.

Peer pressure can be a driving force for positive or negative influences. Positive examples of how peer influence can make a person grow and develop new skills include; a classmate encouraging you to put more hours into studying for an upcoming test or exam, advising you on managing chores better or learning assertive behaviour. In contrast, negative examples involve friends at school that ask you to join in skipping classes with them just for fun or encouraging you to write nasty comments about someone else on Facebook. You may end up engaging in binge drinking and drug use to ‘fit in’ with the crowd or to be accepted by your friends.

Here are some strategies you can use to fend off negative peer pressure;

• Set boundaries: Determine to what extreme you will go and nothing beyond that. Be firm about your limits and if necessary, avoid people or situations that force or trick you into doing things you don’t want to do.

  Check in with yourself: Ask yourself; “How am I feeling about this?” “Does this seem right to me?” “What are the positives and negatives of making this decision?”

  Spend time with people who respect your decisions and won’t put unfair pressure on you to conform.

  When feeling pressured, try the “delay tactic”, give yourself time to think by responding with “Let me think about that,” or “Can I get back to you later?” When you can’t avoid or delay a pressure-filled situation, practice saying “No thanks”.

  Remember that you cannot please everyone or be liked by everyone. Do what is right for you and not to please others.

• Parents can be a valuable source of information, if you feel unsure of whether you are doing the right thing, talk to your parents!

• Compiled by Samantha Feris

May 2017
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