Teens often tell me that they want to say “No!” to friends who have asked them to try alcohol, drugs or participate in other risky behaviors. Teens have also told me they are proud of themselves for growing up drug-free and leading a clean life, but sometimes feel lonely or left out.
It is difficult to be the lone voice when it seems that “everybody else is doing it.” The following excerpt from KidsHealth offers valuable advice to help teens as they make difficult life decisions.
Walking Away From Peer Pressure
It is tough to be the only one who says “no” to peer pressure, but you can do it. Paying attention to your own feelings and beliefs about what is right and wrong can help you know the right thing to do. Inner strength and self-confidence can help you stand firm, walk away and resist doing something when you know better.
It can really help to have at least one other peer, or friend, who is willing to say “no,” too.
This takes a lot of the power out of peer pressure and makes it much easier to resist. It’s great to have friends with values similar to yours who will back you up when you don’t want to do something.
You’ve probably had a parent or teacher advise you to choose your friends wisely. Peer pressure is a big reason why they say this. If you choose friends who don’t use drugs, cut class, smoke cigarettes or lie to their parents, then you probably won’t do these things either, even if other kids do. Try to help a friend who’s having trouble resisting peer pressure. It can be powerful for one kid to join another by simply saying, “I’m with you — let’s go.”
Even if you’re faced with peer pressure while you’re alone, there are still things you can do. You can simply stay away from peers who pressure you to do stuff you know is wrong. You can tell them “no” and walk away. Better yet, find other friends and classmates to pal around with.
If you continue to face peer pressure and you’re finding it difficult to handle, talk to someone you trust. Don’t feel guilty if you’ve made a mistake or two. Talking to a parent, teacher or school counselor can help you feel much better and prepare you for the next time you face peer pressure.
© 1995- 2016 . The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth®. Reprinted with permission.