Dealing with peer pressure

How to spot it and how to say no 🙅‍♀️

Navigating difficult scenarios

Quick summary 📝

1️⃣ Peer pressure varies in intensity, from harmless to damaging

2️⃣ Examples include making choices based on friends' preferences, agreeing to unfair actions, and bending rules

3️⃣ Peer pressure can involve serious issues like smoking, drinking, or risky behaviour

4️⃣ Remember: you have the right to say no and make your own decisions

5️⃣ Peer pressure can indicate a potentially toxic friendship, so it's important to assess its impact


Everyone’s heard of peer pressure. But it can sometimes be hard to identify the line between something relatively harmless amongst friends and damaging peer pressure, that can lead us to do things we really don’t want to do.

Let’s take a few examples:

  • You’re planning a trip to the cinema with a friend. You have different preferences of which film you want to see. You know that they are really excited about their preference, so you agree to watch that one this time
  • Whilst walking home from school, two of your friends agree to not invite a third friend out with the rest of the group at the weekend. You feel bad and that this is unfair on your other friend, but they tell you that you need to go along with it, so you agree 
  • At your friend’s house, you realise you’re going to be home later than you’ve agreed with your parents. Your friend persuades you to stay – you feel a bit guilty but you do also want to stay a bit longer

So – which of these is peer pressure?

There’s no hard and fast answer to this – as peer pressure is really more of a scale.

#1 is at most low-level peer pressure – as you made your own choice out of generosity

#2 looks a lot like peer pressure – it’s not something that you would have chosen on your own, or that you are comfortable with

#3 is a mix – a bit of peer pressure from your friend, which aligns with something you’d quite like to do, even if it’s slightly against the rules

Peer pressure can come in far more serious forms. The most obvious examples include smoking, drinking alcohol, sex, although there are many other possible scenarios. The two rules to remember in all of these examples are:

  • You don’t need to agree to something that someone else wants you to do. Challenge them and don’t be afraid to say no 🙅‍♀️
  • Just because it might seem like ‘everyone else is doing it’, that doesn’t mean that you should too. This is especially true where there are risks involved. Make your own assessments 💪

Someone subjecting you to peer pressure – knowing that they are doing it – is potentially not a particularly good friend. Although they might at first be unaware of how their behaviour can impact you and others, this could also be a sign of a ‘toxic friendship’ – there's an article on this in Learn if you want to know more!

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