How does a teen deal with peer pressure?

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Answered by: Steve, An Expert in the Teenage Advice - General Category
During your teenage years, some of the choices you make now will be like the road map for the rest of your life. Sure, there is a lot of fun to be had, but the decisions you make now will affect the rest of your life more dramatically than a pat on the back or a high-five from a group of peers. If you find yourself at odds dealing with peer pressure, then maybe it is time to discuss just what matters most to your future, and to develop ways to combat it before it happens, so that when it does, you are prepared for the right response.Many times, bad things happen to people due to their own decision to participate in an act of buffoonery or self gratification. Just think about the multitude of situations which just might come to pass with no real consequence, or on the other hand, just might dictate the rest of your life. A decision now to join a classmate in smoking cigarettes might lead to an addiction which could kill you from lung cancer before you're fifty years old. A night drinking at a party might lead to being somehow involved in a drinking and driving incident in which you find yourself in a jail cell or having to deal with a felony conviction or the emotional guilt of having seriously injured, if not killed, someone in a car accident.

Partaking in sexual behaviors that might see you bringing into this world a child whom you are far too unprepared to care for. A prank which goes too far and finds you expelled from your high school and in serious trouble at home. Engaging in any of these behaviors might seemingly have been no big deal in the past, as none of the above mentioned things applied to any of the outcomes in your case. But that does not mean that they might not in the near future, as if doing them with no consequences as led you into a false sense of security, your frequency of engaging in them again will increase, and so will the likelihood of your probability in suffering a consequence.Maybe many of these behaviors are not particularly to your liking, and they were only engaged in after being goaded into it by friends and school acquaintances? Maybe you feared looking like a fool in front of others, or being made fun of or ostracized? Maybe you just never contemplated dealing with peer pressure before, and are hoping to more easily get out of doing things which you are not really comfortable with doing in the fist place, but would like a way of doing so without any ridicule?

First of all, much of this can be avoided by choosing your friends more carefully. Do not get too friendly with someone after just one introduction. Take a while to observe their behaviors, or involvement with other friends. This way, you can see if they are someone you have any thing in common with, and are not going to find yourself regretting going along with them to the house of one of their friends where all of a sudden there is marijuana being passed around.

Are you more concerned with preparing yourself for college than you are for goofing off in class or hanging out with the 'in' crowd on the weekends? By simply putting your priorities in order, and then living your daily life with those in mind, can have a tremendous impact on keeping you out of uncomfortable situations. Spending half the time brushing up on one of your weaker academic subjects that you might otherwise spend hanging out with friends is a good starting point.

Or when you do find yourself being pressured into doing something that you know you shouldn't, say to the person, or people who are doing the pressuring, that you are still their friend if they decide to engage in that behavior, and you would hope that you would still be their friend if you decided not to. Or if walking home from school finds you being asked to go along to the store to steal something, suggest that instead, they go along with you and try to mow some neighborhood lawns so that the wanted items can be bought instead.

Another good way of dealing with peer pressure, especially in a group setting, is to turn the table, so to say, on who looks more idiotic or foolish by choosing to do what they are suggesting. Say something to this affect: "I'd rather look like a chicken for not doing that, then looking like a complete moron in doing it"; "I think I'd rather hold on to some integrity than I would in losing it with some pathetic attempt at trying to impress a few jokesters or girls who I might want to like me." ; "Heck yeah I'm a chicken. I think I like being that much more than I would in being some loser in the back of a police car."

In this way, the focus is turned onto the other person, in that it now appears that what is really at issue is how stupid someone could be in engaging in whatever is being done, and less in why you might be wanting to abstain from it.

Have you ever read in the newspaper, or heard of some kid in your school or city being charged with vehicular manslaughter, felony theft, destruction of property, or a multitude of other legal troubles that could seriously not only affect their current circumstances, but which may negatively affect their future employability or college acceptance as well? You are not immune to being one of those people. One moment of improper behavior is not worth the risk it imposes on the many, many, moments of your future adulthood.

Be smart. If you still find yourself having trouble dealing with peer pressure in the future, speak to a school counselor or one of your teachers. Consider developing different friends who maybe have set their priorities straight as well, and are more likely to be engaging in activities which would not find any of them asking you to do something that everyone knows you shouldn't be doing. Lastly, do not make any decisions on a dare, a bet, or a whim. Have a moment of clarity with yourself, and act accordingly.

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