Ministry of Health Singapore. All Rights Reserved.
When your friends, social or peer groups engage in risky behaviour, how do you say “no”? Develop confidence in your ability to resist negative peer pressure.
Sometimes you can't help but find yourself succumbing to the things your friends do - how they eat, how they dress, and even how they talk!
It's in our nature to be curious and to constantly feel the need to fit in, so we often lead ourselves to believe that we enjoy doing the same things.
At some point, everyone has the desire to fit into a social or peer group. If you're interested in sports, you may hang out with other athletes. If you're interested in music, you spend time with others who enjoy music. This naturally makes you feel a sense of belonging and provides you with that needed security blanket.
What if people in "your group" start doing things that are wrong, hurtful, or even illegal? And what if these same people are your friends and you do not want to participate? Resisting peer pressure is a skill that you can develop.
Often, "just saying no" isn't enough, and young people must look inward at self-confidence and personal convictions to make good choices.
The first step to learning how to deal with peer pressure is to build a strong sense of healthy self-esteem. When you build your self-confidence and believe in yourself, you don't need to impress other people or do what others say to feel good or accepted.
Building confidence at a young age will help you be a self-confident person later on in your future.
It's important to always have respect for yourself and know your own limits when dealing with peer influence or pressure. In order to know when to say no, you have to realise that your decisions, both good and bad, can cause benefit or harm to yourself and to others.
When you improve your self-esteem and have respect for yourself, you are less likely to succumb to peer pressure. You don't feel guilty or pressured into following what other people tell you to do because you know what your own morals, limits, and sense of right and wrong are.
Before you succumb to peer pressure, realise your choices have consequences. Each action you take or do not take will have important consequences - your bad or negative decisions may hurt yourself or those you love.
Getting yourself into bad situations and allowing yourself to engage in risky behaviour merely to fit in, feel accepted, or impress others may have very negative consequences. They can be bad relationships with parents at home, teachers at school, or even trouble with the law.
One of the best ways to deal with, handle, and just avoid peer pressure is to stay away from it. You can do this by choosing who you decide to hang out with - know who your true friends are.
Don't hang out with the "cool" group if they pressure you to make bad decisions - your true friends are good social groups who will help you make the right choices. They will not pressure you into alcohol or drugs.
This is where peer pressure can also have positive influences and effects. Positive peer pressure can encourage young people toward positive behaviours, such as volunteering for a charity or excelling in academics or athletics.
Here are some constructive outcomes peer pressure can actually achieve for you.
As with many other things in life, our interests are constantly changing; the cartoons you once found hilarious will one day seem childish to you. Or you may be into K-pop bands now, but maybe next year you'll be into heavy metal.
Similarly, our friends change, and so do their own interests! It's OK for you guys to not have the same tastes in EVERYTHING!
If you have a group of friends who are particularly interested in sports, but you would rather be spending time doing something else, don't feel the need to compromise.
Having separate interests does not mean that your friendship will drift apart!
We often hear of the success of our peers and some people may find it hard to handle the pressure of performing just as well.
But if you learn to have confidence in your ability and channel the pressure in the right way, you can see their success as a challenge and as a target for you!
No matter how good we are at something, there will always be someone who is better, but that doesn't mean that you will not be able to take the top spot someday.
Be inspired by the smart and talented people around you, learn from them; and when you've reached your goal, you'll know that you've had a worthy opponent.
Being competitive is not necessarily a bad thing.
Imagine if you're surrounded by people who are contented with average results, you'll also start to feel comfortable resting on your laurels. There will not be any outstanding work produced, and neither will you be happy with the recognition you receive for a piece of work you know was not your best.
On the other hand, there is immense satisfaction to gain from knowing that you've competed with the best and came up top.
Everything you will do in the working world requires your strength and tenacity when faced with pressure. Taking on peer pressure now can help prepare you for challenges in the future!
You might be trying to rush to complete an urgent project, but your colleagues have just invited you to hang out to drink.
Learning to say no now will help you better manage such situations in the future, so it's never too late to manage you peer pressure head-on and learn from it!
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This article was last reviewed on
Monday, February 10, 2020
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Ministry of Health Singapore. All Rights Reserved.