Peer Pressure: Definition, Types, Examples, and Ways to Cope

If your friends are always bugging you to do something you’re not comfortable with, remember that true friends like you for who you are, not who they want you to be. Supporting others’ opinions will send the message that you think for yourself. Some kids give in to peer pressure because they want to be liked or they think it helps them fit in. Some worry that other kids might tease them if they don’t go along with the group. They might go along if they think, “Everyone’s doing it,” even though they know better.

  • As students set new priorities or adopt different lifestyles, it opens them up to pressures that they may have resisted in the past.
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  • It’s natural for people to identify with or compare themselves to their peers.
  • But figuring out what’s ok and what’s not is vital to having a good day and enjoying the best bits of school.
  • Peer pressure, that feeling that you have to do something to fit in, be accepted, or be respected, can be tough to deal with.

It would be good for teens to surround themselves with people their age who have the same interests and share the same behavior. Scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, or watching college movies sets up unrealistic expectations for many college students about what this stage of life should look like. Social media is constantly portraying 14-year-olds that bought their first mansion or an 18-year-old’s net worth of over $2 million.

Handling the Effects of Peer Pressure

Peer pressure can sway decisions and outlooks, particularly in adolescents whose minds are still developing. While there are both positive and negative qualities of peer pressure, it’s essential to know how to handle social stress. Below find tips on how to deal with peer pressure and avoid making tough decisions that may trigger adverse outcomes. Peer pressure comes in many forms, both positive and negative. Researchers are now studying the nuances of influence, from suggestion to coercion, to see why some young people are more susceptible than others to pressure from their peers. The goal is to learn how and why children are influenced, and at what critical stages.

Listening to their instincts, focusing on their strengths, talking through issues, and learning relaxation exercises, are all examples of different coping strategies that can help manage stress. Teaching teens — and modeling — coping strategies will help them make healthier choices during the stressful and challenging situations that often come with peer pressure. If the peer pressure is still too much to handle, let your teens know they don’t have to deal with it on their own.


It starts at a very young age—imagine a toddler being singled out for not sharing their favorite toy—and continues to evolve into more complex manifestations. It may be the goading to have “just one puff” of a cigarette in high school, or the college student who has a drink thrust into their hand at a fraternity party. It also affects adults, who may feel that they have to attend a monthly lunch date to please their friends or earn more money to compare favorably with their neighbors.

how to deal with peer pressure

The early use of drugs increases the lifetime risk of developing a substance use disorder. This suggests that children and teens who face high levels of peer pressure and give in to that pressure may have a higher lifetime risk of addiction. For example, if a person sees that their group of friends spends a lot of time drinking, they may feel pressure to drink, even in the absence of direct peer pressure.

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This is OK, as long as the exercise or sport does not become an unhealthy way of coping, excessive to the point of negatively affecting their health, or dangerous (as in dangerous sports). With indirect peer pressure, no one is singling you out, but the environment you’re in may influence you to do something. If you’re at a party where everyone is drinking, for instance, you might feel pressured to drink even if no one asks you to. Usually, the term peer pressure is used when people are talking about behaviors that are not considered socially acceptable or desirable, such as experimentation with alcohol or drugs. When peer pressure is positive, it pushes you to be your best. Negative peer pressure is when someone who is a friend or part of a group you belong to makes you feel that you have to do something to be accepted.

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  • We have tips and advice to help you find the support you need.
  • Many of us experience wanting to fit in with everyone else and be liked.
  • For example, if teens are being pressured to shoplift, teach them things they can ask their peers.

Sometimes it’s easier to know the right thing to do than it is to do it. Thinking about it ahead of time helps you be ready to do what’s right. And when you do what’s right, you might set a good example for your peers. People who are your age, like your classmates, are called peers. When they try to get you to act a certain way, or try to get you to do something, it’s called peer pressure.

Honesty goes a long way in reducing the harmful effects of peer pressure. Speak to the person or group of people who may be causing feelings of unease or uncertainty. Explain why their actions are impactful and kindly ask them to stop. It’s okay to distance yourself from people and groups that are not serving you in a positive aspect. As we enter into adulthood, we may still occasionally be driven by reward-seeking behavior. However, the brain’s limbic system is now more capable of factoring in reasoning such as possible consequences, safety, and general well-being.

Use the following role-playing exercise to explore and discuss two types of peer pressure—spoken and unspoken pressure—with your middle schooler. To view or download printouts of the scripts, please click here [PDF – 1.26 MB]. For parents, you must speak with your children about the harm that can come with groups of friends that have bad intentions.


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