How to Manage Peer Pressure in School? 5 Actionable Tips

A young girl being bullied in a classroom setting.

Making good friends in school is important, but at times, trying to fit in with a group might turn sour. Sometimes, students are pressurized by their friends to do something that they wouldn’t normally and that can leave them feeling embarrassed, ashamed or even frightened.

Peer pressure is a nuisance. Almost everyone faces this in school at some point in time. But, just because everyone is facing it, it doesn’t make it okay. School-going children are at such a young, tender age that they find it extremely hard to cope with social pressures like harassment, loneliness and bullying. Often, children succumb to such pressures and end up doing something that they regret.

Before going any further, let’s understand the meaning of peer pressure.

What is the meaning of peer pressure?

The word ‘peer’ means classmates or schoolmates. During school hours, children spend most of their time with them and even work together in groups. As such, one may feel the need to do certain things or act a certain way as people in their chosen social group or their age group to be accepted and liked.

In this quest to gain a place and be liked, some children end up doing things that they shouldn’t have. The fear of getting rejected by friends makes children give in to peer pressure. After all, everyone – children and adults – just want to fit in somewhere and want to have friends.

What are the most common peer pressures?

The intensity of peer pressure increases as one moves up in the grades. Even though there are schools that try to encourage parent-teacher interactions for tackling peer pressure problems, some may slip through the cracks. After a certain age, children get so influenced by their peers that they even stop confiding in their parents. They might even get to good at hiding their actions that teachers may not be able to notice what they’re doing until it is too late.

Some of the common forms of peer pressure that students might face in their CBSE-based school are as follows:

  • Influencing the way one dresses or wear his/her hair
  • Influencing the activities that one takes part in school
  • The music that one listens to is influenced by his/her peers
  • The pressure of smoking cigarettes or hookah/tobacco
  • Decisions about trying alcohol, drugs or any such intoxicating substance
  • Bunking classes without informing parents
  • Pressure to bully someone, either online or in-person
  • Pressure to follow a certain kind of diet, consuming diet pills and so on
  • Pressurizing individuals to ask parents for expensive gadgets like, a laptop or smartphone to be part of a group
  • Pressure to engage in sexual activities
  • Forcing to steal – it could even be as a part of a dare or some game
  • Cheating in exams

Helpful tips to deal with peer pressure

Learn to say NO to your peers and be stern about it

Say NO when your peers:

  • Ask you to do anything that you’re not comfortable with
  • Force you to do something that you don’t want to
  • Pressurize you to come somewhere and ask you to lie to your parents about it

Do not blindly follow the instructions of your peers. Be polite when you refuse, but take your stand. It is important for you to differentiate between what is wrong and right for you.

Change the subject if you don’t want to hurt your ‘friends’, but also don’t want to do what they’re asking you to

Changing a subject is a good way to avoid being pressurized into doing something. It will make your peers think that you’re interested, but don’t wish to respond right away.

However, this will only help you to buy some time until you muster up the courage to refuse what they’re asking you to do.

Make an excuse and leave if you don’t want like what your peers are suggesting

If you cannot refuse your friends or cannot think of anything to make them change the subject, make an excuse and leave. Say you remembered something important that you have to finish or somewhere you have to be. Get away from the stressful situation. This will give you time to analyze and think.

Be very careful when choosing your friends

Remember, you don’t need to have 100 friends. You only need one friend who truly understands you, shares similar values and accepts you for who you are. You need to be wise about who you choose to be your friend as that person will influence your decisions and personality. If your present friends are only concerned about themselves and just want you to run errands for them, they’re not your friends. You need to move out of such toxic groups and find people who genuinely care about you and respect your opinion.

Confide in your family members or any elder who you trust

If you are unable to handle peer pressure, it is best to talk to someone who you trust, preferably someone older. You can share your concerns with your parents. If you do not wish to talk to your parents, you can confide in your counselor or teacher at school, or talk to your older sibling who can help you out. Openly share what’s bothering you. Solutions can often be found through communication.

Always remember that you are important and your life counts. You don’t need so-called friends who make you do uncomfortable things. You need real friends who will help you hone your skills and motivate you to achieve good things in life. It is better to have no company at all than keep bad company.

Pro tip for parents: Be very thorough when choosing a school for your child. Find out what measures of vigilance the school has in place to curb peer pressure. Since schools are pro-active today, especially CBSE English medium schools, find the right place of education for your child shouldn’t be an issue.