Have you ever done something you didn’t want to do in order to belong to a friend group or because you were worried about “looking cool?” These are classic results of peer pressure but don’t worry, you are not alone! Approximately 90 percent of teens reported having experienced peer pressure, which is commonly defined as any external force of influence on our decisions that might have an effect on our physical or mental health.
Peer pressure happens quite frequently– on social media, amongst our friend groups, at school, and sometimes even in our home. Peer pressure is often thought of as negative, due to influencing decision-making, but it can also be a positive thing. Positive peer pressure might look like encouraging friends to join a play, the pressure to do well on assignments, or influencing kids to try new foods at home. Unfortunately, peer pressure also has the ability to be negative if it restrains you from making a decision yourself or causes emotional or physical consequences.
Peer pressure can happen to anyone at any age, but it’s important to know why peer pressure might happen to better prepare you in setting boundaries. “Oftentimes peer pressure happens because we don’t want to be the only ones doing something,” says Karen Hasselman, School-Based Therapist at Centerstone. Some indicators that someone is being pressured might be an increase in nervousness, secretive behaviors, anxiety or depression, or behavior issues like skipping school.
“Children tend to give in to peer pressure for a couple of different reasons. One might be they don’t have a lot of relationships or friendships, and they fear the risk of losing them. Another might be that it is easier to go along with the crowd rather than going against it,” says Hasselman. When your experience with peer pressure becomes a threat to your health—physically and mentally, it is important to evaluate those relationships and involve a trusted individual (parent, teacher, and friend) who might be able to help you.
Here are some ways you can help combat peer pressure:
Ultimately, you have the ability to discern when things are good or bad for you. Allow yourself the space to make decisions when you are comfortable and know that it is okay to set boundaries and say no.
If you or someone you know is struggling with setting boundaries, Centerstone can help. Call 1-877-HOPE123 (1-877-467-3123) for more information.
If you are in crisis, please call our crisis line, call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room.
If you're still having trouble and would like to reach out to someone about counseling or other Centerstone services, contact us.
Dissociation Mental Health trauma
Mental Health Physical Health LGBTQ+
Family Matters Mental Health Children & Teens
Mental Health Physical Health emotional health
Legislative Advocacy Mental Health