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Dealing with peer pressure

Dealing with peer pressure like a boss!

Growing up in today’s world is tough, there are so many influences which can be tempting which will only end badly. Peer pressure is a very real and scary thing. The way to handle it starts with understanding what it is. Read on to find out about the different types of peer pressure and how to you respond to them in a way that won’t cause you even more stress than the peer pressure itself.

What is peer pressure?

Peer pressure is the influence an individual or a group of friends can have over you, with the aim of getting you to change your standards and morals to theirs. For example, Tabitha, John and Kamo are besties. They leave school to catch a taxi home. Kamo and John want to go to the mall, Tabitha has extra work to do because she’s applied for a bursary. Instead of saying no, Tabitha goes to the mall. She feels pressurised to go with because if she doesn’t go, they will tease her for being boring. She doesn’t want to lose her friends.

 The different types of peer pressure

  1. Peer pressure can be both negative and positive: positive peer pressure is when, for example, one person in a group of friends, is a bit of a rebel and doesn’t care about his schoolwork. If all his peers take their studies seriously, he may change his ways over time because he sees his friends doing well in school. The example of Tabitha, Kamo and John mentioned earlier is a good example of negative peer pressure.
  2. Peer pressure can be verbal (direct) and unspoken (indirect). Verbal peer pressure is when you are told or asked to do something you don’t want to do. Unspoken peer pressure is when everyone in your group is behaving in a certain way, and you feel pressurised to follow their behaviour.


It’s important to remember that regardless of the type of peer pressure, it can happen in adult social circles as well as teen friendship circles. It can even happen in the workplace. Learning to deal with it early in life will help you later in life too.

How to stand your ground safely

First, you have to accurately recognise peer pressure. Think about the situation you are in and ask yourself: would you do the same thing if none of your friends were around? If the answer is no, you are probably experiencing peer pressure.

The best way to stand your ground is to be respectful yet honest and firm. Don’t make a big deal about it, but you do need to set boundaries and stick to them. The ‘friends’ who are pressurising you will eventually give up. It might take some time and it will take courage to put your foot down but in the end your friends will respect you more for being a strong person. If you are still being pressurised by someone who will not give up, speak to an adult or a teacher you trust. It is not healthy for someone to continue pressurising you over long periods of time. It is unacceptable.

How to help someone who is giving in to peer pressure safely

Give that person support. If you happen to be around when they are being pressurized, calmly tell the culprit to leave them to make up their own minds. Again, always be respectful, honest and firm. Explain that every person has the choice to do what they feel right doing. If the culprit keeps at it and you can see it affecting your friend, speak to an adult that you can trust. If you don’t know of an adult you feel safe talking to, you could call Childline on 116. They will put you in touch with a trained professional who can help you.

You will be confronted with different forms of pressure many times during your life. Start standing up for yourself now so that you are more equipped to deal with it at a later stage. You are much stronger and smarter than you think you are!

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