The teen years are renowned for transition, growth and change as many teenagers develop and come to know who they are. Some of these changes include the pressure of fitting in and being accepted by peers, and can be rather challenging for a large number of teens. Assist your learners through this trying period by sharing this essential guide on dealing with peer pressure with them.
What is peer pressure?
Peer pressure occurs when a learner feels the need to behave like others, and often against the will, in order to fit in and be accepted by peers their age. This pressure can influence the attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviours a learner holds about bullying, sexual behaviour, taking drugs and being involved in crime. Learners often give in to these harmful behaviours because they fear rejection.
How to recognise peer pressure
- People who try to make you do something that you don’t want to do
- Peers who encourage you to try dangerous addictive substances such as cigarettes, alcohol and drugs
- Pressure from others to be in a relationship or have sex
- Peers that encourage you to hit, spread rumours, bully or say horrible things to someone
- Pressure to be rebellious and break rules at school and at home
- Pressure to steal, lie and do crime in order to be part of the group
Appropriate responses to peer pressure
Practise being assertive:
By being assertive, you clearly say what you think or feel and at the same time, you respect the rights and beliefs of others.
Example: “I feel uncomfortable when you offer me beer. I have already told you, I don’t want to drink, so it makes me feel like you don’t respect me.”
Resist peer pressure:
It’s easier to resist peer pressure when you can cope well with your emotions and your responsibilities. This includes saying ‘no’ when something is too much. Learn to cope with your strong emotions by doing the following:
- breathing in deeply when you feel upset or overwhelmed with emotion
- write in your journal to express your feelings
- find things that you can do well and do them often
Positive peer pressure
Choose to spend time with people whom you admire and who make healthy choices in their lives. Surround yourself with peers that encourage you to study hard, exercise and respect your personal boundaries. This will help you make good choices too.
If learners are still struggling to cope with peer pressure, help is available at the following groups:
South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG): SMS 31393
Source: Oxford Headstart Life Orientation Grade 7 Learner’s Book