Lots of people think about peer pressure in relation to bad things but it isn’t always and sometimes isn’t even noticeable like if a friend suggests a book to read and it is now your favourite or gets you to listen to a new band that you love.
Peer pressure means feeling like you have to do something because people around you want you to or expect you to. It might be to make someone else happy or to fit in with a new group. It’s okay to say no if you don’t want to or feel uncomfortable. You have the right to choose what’s best for you, even if it’s not what other people think is best.
Just say no! Easy right?
Not really!! Saying no and standing up for yourself can be really hard you might be worried about hurting or upsetting someone else or you might be worried that by saying you don’t want to do something your friendships will be affected. Or maybe you have no problem standing up for yourself but find that this always ends up in an argument or you getting into trouble because you get angry and can’t seem to do it in a calm way.
So… how can you stand up for yourself without feeling bad and without feeling angry? By being honest, direct and clear or by being assertive – being assertive is a skill and there are lots of ways you can help yourself become more assertive so that you can feel confident saying no to the people around you.
If you find that you shy away from saying what you think or worry about saying no to your friends try doing these things to help yourself become more assertive;
- Pay attention to what you think, feel, want, and prefer. You need to be aware of these things before you can communicate them to others.
- Notice if you say “I don’t know,” “I don’t care,” or “it doesn’t matter” when someone asks what you want. Stop yourself. Practice saying what you’d prefer, especially on things that don’t really matter. For example, if someone asks, “Would you like green or red?” you can say, “I’d prefer the green one — thanks.”
- Practice asking for things. For example: “Can you please pass me a spoon?” “I need a pen — does anyone have an extra?” “Can you save me a seat?” This builds your skills and confidence for when you need to ask for something more important.
- Give your opinion. Say whether or not you liked a movie you saw and why.
- Practice using “I” statements such as: “I’d like…” “I prefer…” or “I feel…”
- Remind yourself that your ideas and opinions are as important as everyone else’s. Knowing this helps you be assertive. Assertiveness starts with an inner attitude of valuing yourself as much as you value others.
If you find that you get angry or always end up in a fight with someone when you are trying to tell them what you think or want try doing these things to help yourself become more assertive;
- Try letting others speak first.
- Notice if you interrupt. Catch yourself, and say: “Oh, sorry — go ahead!” and let the other person finish.
- Ask someone else’s opinion, then listen to the answer.
- When you disagree, try to say so without putting down the other person’s point of view. For example, instead of saying: “That’s a stupid idea,” try: “I don’t really like that idea.” Or instead of saying: “He’s such a jerk,” try: “I think he’s insensitive.”
Take a look at Peer pressure | Childline for more advice and support, there’s lots of helpful information if you feel you are being pressured into smoking, drinking or using drugs, loosing weight or looking a certain way, getting into trouble or having sex and sending sexual texts or images.