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Peer pressure

If you feel you have to behave like the people around you (your peers) and can’t be yourself, then you’ve given in to ‘peer pressure’.

Dare to be different

It can be hard to stand out from the crowd. We all want to fit in and be accepted. But you should never feel forced to do something you don’t want to – whether it’s a small thing or a big deal – just to get your friend’s approval or to avoid being picked on. Sometimes it needs someone to stand up and say no, and the rest of the group will stop too and later thank you for your courage.

Don’t feel pressured into:

  • wearing the same things as your mates, getting your hair cut the same
  • drinking, smoking or taking drugs
  • dropping a friend, because of the rest of your group isn’t keen on them
  • picking on someone, or worse, bullying them
  • skipping school lessons
  • going out with someone
  • having sex or sexting

Life-long lessons

Peer pressure happens whatever age you are, so it’s good to learn how to handle it now.

So, it’s important you learn:

  • to lead and you don’t just follow
  • to have a mind of your own and to stick to what you really believe
  • to choose your friends carefully. If you hang out with people who think like you, you’re less likely to have to make hard choices
  • if your friends share your values, you’re more likely to find one person in the group who’ll back you up, if you’re refusing to go along with what’s suggested

Life-changing decisions

If you give in to peer pressure it can have serious consequences and even land you in trouble with the law. It’s all too easy to think something is harmless, but if, say, you’re older and your friends persuade you to drive when you’ve been drinking you could cause a crash and land people in hospital or worse.

Top tips for getting help

Stand out from the crowd illustration Be true to yourself and have your own opinions. Don’t be scared to stand out from the crowd and speak up against them.
Just because you’re in a minority, doesn’t mean you’re wrong. Stay strong!
Speech bubble 'No' illustration Learn to be assertive without being rude. It can be useful in loads of situations.

More helpful info

ChildLine has some good information and tips on 'not giving in to peer pressure'.
NHS Choices is great if you’re a little older and struggling with your peers.

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