Discussing the concept of peer pressure with teens: a five-step guide
Ask your class to discuss the concept of friendship- what is it that makes friendship important? Ask the teens to share how they feel about having friends. Ask them to discuss different types of friendships.
Discuss the concept of friendships and peer pressure with your group.
Peer groups are important, particularly in our teenage years. We want to feel part of a group as part of our social development in adolescence. And they can be a good thing. It’s great to feel part of a community or group. However, it’s important to be mindful that there can also be negative consequences if we don’t think for ourselves.
It’s important to remember that your group’s behaviour or activities aren’t always good for you, your health, or that of others. Perhaps you find yourself under pressure to do activities you wouldn’t consider doing otherwise. You may feel uncomfortable about these activities. You might know they’re bad for you. For example, underage drinking or drugs. However, you feel that if you don’t do them you’ll be bullied or made feel left out of the group. This is what is known as peer pressure and sometimes leads to teens engaging in bad or even dangerous behaviour for fear of not fitting in with their group.
Time for a brainstorming session. Ask the class to think of the advantages, and disadvantages, to be had from belonging to a group. Divide up your whiteboard or pin two sheets of paper on the wall, and ask the teens to list out these advantages and disadvantages.When the lists have been completed, it’s now time to prompt a discussion. Ask the teens what they notice about the points on each list. Ask them to think if anything is missing from either of the lists. Finally, ask the teens to consider what they have learned about belonging to a group, based on this discussion.
Now, it’s time for some group work. Divide the class into small groups, and ask them to each come up with a list of ways teens might be able to deal with peer pressure, this should take about five minutes. When they have completed this task, ask each group to choose the top three strategies, drawn from lists that they have come up with. Now it’s time to bring the groups together; ask each group to send a representative to the top of the room and write one of their top three methods on the whiteboard or a sheet of paper. If there’s time, after discussing these, you could even ask them to put up more.
5. At the end of this exercise, take five minutes or so to summarise the lesson. The teens should take away the following points:
Wanting to belong to a peer group is normal and healthy
Be wary that many teens find themselves pressured, bullied, or taken advantage of in such a group
It’s important to make your own decisions based on your values and ones that are good for you; never feel pressured to do something that makes you feel wrong or uncomfortable
Friendship is important, but never let your friends pressure or bully you into doing something