Written by Emma Burbidge Posted in Alcohol and drug addiction, Sex and Relationships, Beat bullying
What are the effects of peer pressure?
In some cases, peer pressure can be positive. For example, you might be encouraged by your friends to watch a certain TV programme or listen to a particular band. The effect of this is harmless. However, peer pressure can sometimes have a negative effect that is dangerous or harmful. Some people may be influenced by their friends to do something that they don’t want to do in order to fit in. Or they may influence others to act in a certain way because they want to feel better about themselves.
The effects of peer pressure could lead someone to do things they don’t want to do, such as have sex before they are ready, drink excessive amounts of alcohol or commit crimes.
We are all human and sometimes we may influence others more because they look up to us and admire us, while some of us are the type who want to earn people’s friendship and feel compelled to do things in order to blend in with the crowd.
However, it’s not helpful to ourselves to be influenced by others or to influence others into doing things they don’t want to do. For the pressured, it can destroy confidence and also make them more likely to pressure others. For the one causing the pressure, it can lead to further problems and does not produce any greater happiness or feeling of self-worth.
So how do you deal with peer pressure?
We all need friends that respect us and appreciate us, no matter what we like or dislike, do or don’t do. People who cause peer pressure on others intentionally are often the ones who have been victims of peer pressure themselves.
It is possible to avoid being pressured by avoiding situations that may land you in trouble. For example, if you are invited to a party where you know alcohol and drugs are being consumed, and you don’t want to get involved, then you can choose not to go or turn up to the party but drink a non-alcoholic drink instead.
People can avoid being pressured by saying ‘no’. It is difficult to stand up to friends, especially in situations where it may just be you against them. It requires a lot of guts and courage to stand up to mates. However, asserting yourself and saying you don’t want to do something can make you feel better about yourself and give you more confidence. It might also earn you more respect from your friends!
How does one say ‘no’ to their friends?
You can try saying simply, ‘I don’t want to’.
It’s best to be assertive and strong, rather than aggressive or weak. This is the best way of saying ‘no’. Making excuses or being a bit know-ally can sometimes make the situation worse and could lead to further pressure.
Saying ‘no’ to friends should make them like you more and respect your feelings. If it doesn’t, then you might want to consider whether the friendship is worth salvaging.
People who influence others can avoid this by listening to what their friends have to say. If a friend seems unsure about doing something, then you should try to listen to them and ask them what they want to do. They might be too shy to say ‘no’, or maybe they are really not keen on getting into trouble but don’t want to appear stupid.
Respecting your mates’ feelings and opinions, and allowing them to deviate slightly from the crowd or do their own thing can make the friendship stronger and you will gain the confidence to avoid pressure from others and feel better about yourself.