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Peer Pressure

How to handle peer pressure as a teen

When you’re a teen, it’s normal to want to fit in and have friends. But when your peers make unhealthy choices and pressure you to do so, that’s called negative peer pressure. While it can be a common part of your teen years, it’s still possible to make healthy decisions. Here are some tips to stay true to yourself.

How to resist negative peer pressure

As a teen, you may be pressured to do things like drink alcohol, use drugs, have sex, shoplift, sneak out of the house, vandalize property, drive dangerously, skip school or cheat on tests. While it can be tempting to give in when all your friends are doing something, it’s never worth it. Real friends want you to be healthy, safe and successful.

When facing peer pressure, think of the acronym “SWAG:”

  • S: Stop and say no
  • W: Explain WHY
  • A: Avoid the situation and offer alternatives
  • G: Get out

Stop and say no: Take a deep breath and firmly say “no.” Get comfortable with saying no. You have the right to make your own decisions.

Explain WHY: If you’ve decided to wait to have sex or drink alcohol, stick to your decision, no matter what your friends say. Have some responses you can use, such as:

  • I’m just not ready.
  • I don’t want to worry about STIs or pregnancy.
  • Our relationship is good without sex.
  • I care too much about my future and don’t want to mess it up by doing this.
  • I don’t need that stuff to have a good time.
  • No, I’m not into that.

Avoid the situation and offer alternatives: Avoid circumstances where you may be tempted to use drugs or alcohol or have sex, such as being home alone with your partner or going to parties where drugs and alcohol are available. Instead, suggest alternative activities like going out to eat, playing video games or going for a walk.

Get out: Trust your gut. If you feel unsafe or your friend/partner doesn’t respect your decision, leave the situation immediately. Come up with a code with your parents or a trusted adult that tells them they need to pick you up, such as “I just got a bad headache. Can you come to get me?”

What is positive peer pressure?

Your friends can also influence you in good ways, so it’s essential to surround yourself with people who support your goals and encourage you to make healthy decisions.

For example, if you hang out with a group of people who take school seriously, you may be more likely to prioritize academics too. When you have a strong support system, you’ll be more motivated to succeed and make healthy choices.

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