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Dealing with peer pressure is easier than you may think

As a teen, it's likely you've experienced the effects of peer pressure/peer influence in a number of different ways. What you probably don't know is that there are two types of peer pressure: Positive and negative. Examples of positive peer pressure would be joining a volunteer group solely because all of your besties already have or striving to get good grades because the social group you belong to believes good grades are important. 

Negative peer pressure is a completely different animal, though, and it's something that can have a heavy impact on your future. Here are some common examples of situations involving negative peer pressure, and how you can go about dealing with them:

#1: You go to a party with a bunch of your friends where there is alcohol. You do not feel comfortable drinking, and know that doing so underage can lead to serious legal consequences and is dangerous to your health, but your group of friends decide to partake. One of them offers you a beer.

What do you do? Even though it may be hard to resist this type of social peer pressure (especially in the heat of the moment) you just have to stay firm and politely decline. There's no need to make a big deal out of it, simply saying, "I'm good," or "No thanks," is a perfectly fine answer. If you don’t want to outright say no, you can say, "That's OK, I don't like the taste." Having the strength to stick to what you believe in will earn you respect and boost your confidence.

#2: You walk into your first period geometry class and get out your homework, something you had worked on for over 40 minutes the night before. Your classmate sitting next to you asks if they can copy it, explaining that they didn't have the time to complete it.

What do you do? This situation is very common, especially once you reach high school. Even though you may want to be nice and let them copy, you have to remember that you spent the time and effort working on it, while they did not. Additionally, agreeing to do so sets a precedent for that person to think it's okay to copy off of you. So telling them, "No, sorry" not only benefits you, but also your classmate. If you don't want to be so blunt, instead just say, "Sorry, I didn't really understand it, so my answers are probably wrong."

#3: You're at the mall with your friends looking for some new fall clothes. You go into the dressing room to try a cute shirt on, and one of your friends follows you in with two scarves. They proceed to put one scarf in their purse, and then dare you to do the same with the other. You know that shoplifting is morally wrong and can lead to some serious consequences, but you are still unsure of what to say to your friend.

What do you do? In this situation, it is very important that you don’t give in—as the consequences are much more serious than the sitch in #2. Just say, "Definitely not," or "I don't even like this scarf." Stay firm and calm, and urge your friend to remove the scarf from her bag and then leave the store.

#4: You are halfway through your first year of high school and have realized that many of the students in your class have begun to partake in sexual activities. You know that you are not ready to engage in a sexual relationship, but you're curious. You understand the dangers of unprotected sex, such as the risk of pregnancy and STDs, as well as the emotional effects of it. Despite this, you feel insecure about not having experienced what many of your peers have.

What do you do? In this type of situation, you have to remember that just because many other people are having sex, that doesn't mean you have to or should. Stick to your beliefs, babe.

Ultimately the decision to act (or not to act) is up to us as individuals. Just remember, you do not need to follow the crowd to have friends or fit in.

How have you dealt with negative forms of peer pressure in your life? Let us know in the comments below.

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by Cecelia Yost | 6/3/2018
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