Peer Pressure

What is a Peer and what is Peer Pressure?

People, who are your age, like friends and classmates are called Peers.

Peer Pressure is the stress or strain you feel from your peers to act, behave, think and look a certain way.

When you are young and still trying to understand the world around you, making decisions by yourself is hard enough; but when other people get involved and try to pressure and influence you into doing something, it gets even harder!

Do only young people face Peer Pressure?

It’s something everyone deals with at some point - even grown ups!

Is Peer Pressure bad?

Not at all! Without you realizing it, peers influence your life, just by spending time with you. You discover some things from them, and they from you. It is human nature, to listen and learn from other people in your age group.

So when does Peer Pressure have a good influence?

Peers can and do have a positive influence on each other. Some good examples of positive influence are, a classmate teaches you an easy way to remember the Urdu chapter you are stuck on, you teach someone how to correct their pronunciation, someone on the cricket team shows you how to play a googly in cricket, you admire a friend who is always telling “latifas” and try to be more like him or her, you convince a friend to skip a party to prepare for an exam the next day, you get others excited about the latest Atif Aslam song - and now everyone’s humming it!

And when does Peer Pressure have a negative influence?

Sometimes peers influence each other in negative ways. Consider the following examples - you don’t know the latest trends in fashion or the gossip on Aishwarya Rai, and are ridiculed for being out of the loop, you read the Urdu paper and get teased for being so-not-“cool”, you hear so many snide remarks for not having the latest model of the mobile phone that you feel compelled to go out and buy one. Smoking is dangerous for health – you know that, but still go against your instinct and start smoking so you fit in the crowd. You know you shouldn’t cut class but find yourself going along just because your best friends are doing it or you become a bully in a group though you know it’s wrong.

We all want to be liked. That is a basic human nature. Nobody wants to be labeled a ‘bore’, ‘nerd’, ‘loser’ or a ‘weirdo’. But to leave your better judgment and common sense behind and go do something that deep down you ‘know’ you don’t want to is bad news.

I don’t want to give in to Peer Pressure and still hold on to my friends. Is that possible?

It sure is! Remember friends worth their salt will respect your wishes and never try to force you to do anything you don’t want to. It is tough to be the only one who says “no” to peer pressure, but you can do it. You will be pleasantly surprised to see how tough and strong you will feel. Here are a few tips:

  • Pay attention to your own feelings and instincts about what is right. This will help you in making the right decision.
  • Develop inner strength and self-confidence. This will help you be firm, walk away, and resist doing something when you know you don’t want to.
  • If you can, get family support.
  • Help a friend who is having trouble resisting peer pressure by standing by them and supporting them.
  • Find friends who think like you and understand why you don’t want to do shisha as enthusiastically as the others do, or cut class when you have an assignment due or just hang out at home on a Saturday night.
  • Try to have at least one other peer/friend, who is willing to say “no,” as well. This takes a lot of the power out of peer pressure and makes it much easier to resist. It’s great to have such a dost/yaar with ideas similar to yours who will back you up when you don’t want to do something. You may feel good that you said no to lighting up a cigarette just because others in the group did!

You’ve probably heard advice that you should “choose your friends wisely.” Peer pressure is a big reason why they say this. If you choose friends who don’t use drugs, bunk school, smoke, or lie to their parents, then you probably won’t do these things either, even if others do.

We all make mistakes at some point in our lives. It is important to realize our mistakes and learn from them for the future. Talking to your parents or maybe a teacher at school whom you can trust, can help you feel much better and prepare you for the next time you face peer pressure.
You can also write to counselor@srhmatters.org

Tackling it head-on…

  • Prepare yourself ahead of time for uncomfortable situations. Mentally script out the reaction you WANT to have in a given situation and practice it
  • Know where you stand on important issues like sex, drugs, alcohol and smoking and do not allow anybody to make you stray from your decision.
  • Refuse to take part in anything designed to cause harm or distress to another person and speak up when/if such a situation arises.
  • Think of yourself as a leader and act accordingly. The more you see yourself in a leadership role the more comfortable you will feel asserting your own opinions and feelings amongst your peers.

Still got a question this page doesn’t answer?
Want help for yourself or for a friend?
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Drop a line to counselor@srhmatters.org or advice@srhmatters.org.

Also see

www.teenadvice.about.com/library/weekly/qanda/blpeerpressure.htm

www.rozan.org