How to Handle Peer Pressure

By: Melody Lau

In books and movies, we often see our favourite characters get into messy situations because of peer pressure. Whether it’s shoplifting or trying something outrageous, we may think to ourselves “Oh my gosh, that’s so dumb! I would never do that” with our viewer perspective. 

But, when we’re faced with peer pressure in-person from our friends or family members, it’s a different story. We usually don’t have much time to react and sometimes we may not realize we’re giving into peer pressure. For example, it’s easy to fall into the psychological phenomenon–groupthink. 

Groupthink is when group members of a friend group, for example, agree with the majority because they want to fit in and maintain harmony. This can be dangerous when you’re going against your personal beliefs and levels of comfort because you don’t want your peers to look down on you.

People aged 10-17 often find themselves facing peer pressure the most because they’re at the age where they want to become more independent and try new things. Of course, teens can make their own decisions, but it’s important to make responsible choices.

On a positive note, there can be good peer pressure scenarios where your peers may influence you to make a moral decision, such as telling the truth or studying harder for an upcoming test.

We came up with a few examples of peer pressure, and before you read how we would approach each scenario—think about what you would do first. 

Scenario 1

You just purchased your first bra and your friend Paisley encourages you to wear a spaghetti strap shirt at the mall to show off your bra straps. She says “all girls do it” and that you will look more mature and sophisticated if you’re showing off your bra. You’re uncomfortable by the idea of your straps showing, so you ignore Paisley’s advice. But then, you see your whole friend group wearing shirts and dresses that show off their straps. What do you do? 

What We Would Do: I would tell Paisley and our friends that I respect their decision, but I’m not comfortable with my bra straps showing. I would say how grateful I am to have a set of Apricotton’s bras where the straps are adjustable with the ability to criss-cross and make my bra invisible under any top. Although the pressure to fit in is strong in this scenario, you have to realize that the choice is up to you.

Scenario 2 

You’re at your friend Emma’s house for a sleepover when she gets an invite to her cousin’s last-minute party. The party starts at 8 p.m. and you made a promise to your parents to not leave Emma’s house later than 7 p.m. Emma invites your closest friends to join and tells you to sneak out with her. Emma gives you a few minutes to decide before saying, “your parents will never know and we’ll be home by the time they pick you up tomorrow morning.” What do you do?

What We Would Do: Take a step away from Emma and collect your thoughts. It’s difficult to make a decision when your friend is staring you down and expecting an immediate response. Sure—a party may sound fun, but there’s a reason why your parents wouldn’t want you going out late without parental supervision. However, there is the chance that they may let you go if you ask for permission. I would give them a call and listen to their advice and direction. If my parents said no, then I would ask Emma if we could just stay in and hang out ourselves. You can suggest watching a fun movie or play video games. If Emma continues to insist on going to the party, then I would ask my parents to pick me up and take me home. From personal experience, I know that lying to your parents is never a good idea, and they tend to find out the truth at the end. 

There’s no right way to handle peer pressure, but the most important advice when making decisions is to think about what you’re comfortable with. Trust your gut instinct and reach out to a trusted family member or peer if you’re struggling with what to do. 

If you have any suggestions or advice on peer pressure aside from our tips, be sure to message us on our contact form and share with our Apricotton community! Feel free to say hi on IG as well and send us any questions you may have about anything— no question is ever embarrassing or too awkward.

About the Author:

Melody is a Master’s student in Journalism and Communication at Western and hopes to pursue a career in entertainment or investigative journalism. She also loves Letterboxd, country music and is excited to be a part of the Apricotton Team! Connect with her here

Sources:

https://ethicsunwrapped.utexas.edu/glossary/groupthink