Coping with peer pressure and bullying

Your friends influence your life, even if you don’t realise it. Its only normal for us to learn from one another due to the amount of time we spend with friends. But what happens if that influence is unhealthy? Here’s how to cope with peer pressure and bullying.

What is peer pressure?

Peer pressure happens when a group or individual encourages others to change their attitudes, values, or behaviours to be the same as those of the influencing group or individual. This influence can be both positive and negative.

An example of a positive influence can be your friends encouraging you to attend class, and study ahead of an exam. While an example of a negative influence can be your friends encouraging you to cut class or bunk school, or smoke in the toilets when you know you’re not comfortable doing so.

What is peer pressure bullying?

Peer pressure bullying makes you feel internal pressure to do things your friends are doing. Most of the time, this pressure comes from the fear that if you don’t behave the way your friends do, then they’ll make fun of you, think you’re boring or stop being your friend.

Walking away from peer pressure bullying

It seems tough to be the only one who says “no” to peer pressure, but you can do it. Paying attention to your own feelings and beliefs about what’s right and wrong can help you know the right thing to do. Inner strength and self-confidence can help you stand firm, walk away, and resist doing something you know you’re not comfortable with. You can tell them “No” and walk away. You may also want to consider finding other friends and classmates to hang around with.

It can really help to have at least one other peer, or friend, who’s willing to say “no,” too. This takes a lot of the power out of peer pressure and makes it much easier to resist. It’s great to have friends with values like yours, who’ll back you up when you don’t want to do something.

Even if you’re faced with peer pressure when you’re alone, there are still things you can do. You can simply stay away from friends who pressure you to do stuff you know is wrong.

If you continue to face peer pressure and you’re finding it difficult to handle, talk to someone you trust. Don’t feel guilty if you’ve made a mistake or two. Talking to a parent, teacher, or a counsellor can help you feel much better and prepare you for the next time you face peer pressure. You can also chat with me. Remember that a good friend will never pressure you to do something you’re not comfortable with.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).