Peer pressure

Every young person experiences the pull of peer influence at one point or another. During the teen years, when the desire to conform is heightened, it can be tough to resist joining in the same risky behavior as one’s friends, peers and classmates. But doing so can have harmful and lasting consequences. The key is to employ empowering strategies to help withstand temptation and make smarter choices.

If you are experiencing peer pressure

The following tips can help you feel more confident standing up to peer pressure:

  • Resist making snap decisions. Ask your friends for more information so you can make an informed choice.
  • Formulate a plan or an excuse to exit the situation.
  • Suggest an alternative idea if you’re uncomfortable with what your friends are suggesting.
  • Be empowered to say “no” to any situation you’re not comfortable with.
  • Instead of following the crowd, follow your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t get caught up in the moment.
  • Reevaluate your circle of friends. Surround yourself with peers who are positive and uplifting.
  • Stay away from situations where bad choices are common.
  • Get involved in positive activities such as teams, clubs, physical exercise or artistic pursuits.
  • Stay true to your core values and beliefs.
  • Determine your future goals and aspirations, and chart a positive path toward reaching them.
  • Develop healthy self-esteem. Learn to feel good about being you. You don’t have to be like your friends to feel confident and secure.
  • Find a trusted adult, whether a school counselor, teacher or mental health professional to discuss your concerns.


Spotting signs of peer pressure

No young person is completely immune from peer influence. While we hope most are able to resist the temptation to make harmful choices, that is not always the case. Seek help from school counselors or mental health professionals if you notice the following behaviors. They could be signs of peer pressure in teens.

  • Drop in school performance, skipping classes or cheating
  • Spends more time with a new group of friends
  • Changes in clothing style or color, jewelry and makeup
  • Becomes more secretive, withdrawn or sullen
  • Receives calls at odd hours or spends more time on the computer
  • Asks to go places or do activities that never interested him or her before
  • Changes in attitude, tone and mannerisms
  • Increased irritability
  • Reckless or irresponsible behavior that is out of character
  • Substance or tobacco use
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Expressing a feeling of not fitting in with peers


Talk to a school counselor

Reach out to a school counselor in your school district if you are experiencing peer pressure or notice signs in others.