Peer pressure is all around you, and it’s one of the most ubiquitous forces surrounding a person’s development in society. Even from a young age, there’s a lot of internal and external pressure, both positive and negative. When other people are taunting and teasing you for something you don’t want to do, it’s hard to not feel humiliated and frustrated, but there are many ways to redirect their attention and alleviate the situation. As individuals, we all deserve to feel respected and comfortable in our own skin.
Peer Pressure Definition
First of all, what is peer pressure? Peer pressure is defined as the influence from members of one’s peer group to take certain action. Almost everyone is affected by peer pressure at one point of another. Every day, we have to make decisions based on the perceived judgements of others. Peer pressure can be positive or negative, but when it’s negative, it’s not something we should give in to.
Why Do We Give Into Peer Pressure?
Individuals might succumb to peer pressure because they want to be liked, fit in, or they worry that they will be left out if they don’t go along with the group. Others go along because of curiosity, and they want to try something new. No matter what the reasons are, there’s never any need to step out of your comfort zone or compromise your principles.
So without further ado, here are 5 ways for how to deal with peer pressure at parties:
1. Practice. This sounds really basic, but practice in front of the mirror. Practice saying no. Practice using a strong voice, standing up tall, and looking at your peer straight in the eyes. Be prepared since these situations can arise when you least expect.
2. Say no like you mean it. You can be assertive and firm without coming off as angry or mean. Make sure to include positivity and light-heartedness in your response, for example, if someone offers you alcohol, you can say “Nah, it’s not my thing,” or you can redirect their attention with, “I’m okay, I’m actually kind of hungry right now, do you want to order pizza?” Also, people can hear uncertainty and wavering in your voice when you speak, so make sure to cut all of that out of your response. Finally, you always have the right to say no.
3. Be repetitive. Sometimes people will continue to pressure you even after you have said no. Continue saying no with conviction, even though it may get awkward or tense. Sometimes others just have to hear things a few times before they get the hint. Or, they continue to ask because they think that you will change your answer. But if you continue sticking with your initial answer, they will eventually just move on to the next thing that catches their interest.
4. Remove yourself from the situation. Sometimes the most effective way to reduce the pressure is to simply remove yourself, which allows you to have space to recollect your thoughts. It’s always an option to walk away. If walking to another room or a few feet away isn’t enough, you can remove yourself in other ways. Have a back-up plan. If a party or event isn’t going so comfortably, come up with a way to contact your friends or your parents. You can come up with a code with your parents or another friend, for example, if you call your parents, you can say repeatedly “Mm-hmm,” over and over, so that others around you can’t guess the content of your call, but your parents will know that you mean for them to come pick you up.
5. Seek support–use the buddy system. If you and your friend both decide to make similar choices, reinforce each other to stick with the decisions throughout the night. Check up with each other periodically to make sure they’re okay and having a good time. Surround yourself with others who will be a positive influence and respect you as well as your decision. On top of that, make good friends who won’t put you in uncomfortable situations. Evaluate your friendships. Question why you’re even friends with them in the first place. Are these really people you want to spend your precious time and energy with?
Picking the right crowd to hang out with is one of the preliminary steps to preventing peer pressure before it even begins. You want respectful friends who are similar to you in certain ways, who won’t ask you to change for them. If you pick your friends wisely in the beginning, you may never find yourself in a compromising situation. If you suddenly realize you don’t like the direction your group of friends is headed in, it’s okay to take a step back and reevaluate them. Don’t be afraid to end harmful and toxic relationships. I mean, nobody has time for that. New people are always constantly entering your life all the time, and it’s important to build healthy, strong relationships and surround yourself with positive influences, people who make you feel good about yourself, who you are and what you want to be.
All of that being said, the best way to avoid peer pressure is to build confidence in yourself and have a high self esteem. This is because peer pressure ultimately thrives on making you feel bad about yourself, or feeling like you must change something to feel better about yourself to have others like you more. The best way to combat this is to know who you are and understand what your principles are. You can groom yourself and dress nicely, but if you want to feel better about yourself it’s most important to think positive thoughts and kill any negative ones. Before you leave for the day, make sure to face yourself in the mirror and remind yourself that you are worthy, you are deserving, you are loved. Take the time to get to know yourself and what you’re comfortable with. Be a person with integrity and character. Understand your situation. Express yourself eloquently to your friends and your peers. Know when something doesn’t feel right; trust your gut always.