Peer pressure

It can be tempting to do everything you can to fit in with your friends. But if you don't feel comfortable with something it's always okay to say "no".

what peer pressure means

The people around you (your peers) influence your day-to-day decisions, even if you don't realise it.

Sometimes this can be a good thing. Maybe a friend suggested a book that's now your favourite.

But sometimes they might pressure you to do things you don't want to do. Like hurt someone else, do something unsafe or miss school.

Peer pressure means feeling like you have to do something because people around you want you to or expect you to. It might be to make someone else happy or to fit in with a new group. It's okay to say no if you don’t want to or feel uncomfortable. You have the right to choose what’s best for you, even if it’s not what other people think is best.

Things to remember:

  • it's okay to say no to things if you don't feel comfortable or safe
  • you have the right to make your own choices
  • there are ways to say no to something, but still be accepted and have friends. If someone is your friend they should accept your decision.
  • there are ways to feel more confident about saying how you feel.

Being pressured to...

Watch: Why Can't I Say No To My Friends?

Ways to say no

It can be hard to say 'no' to your friends, especially when they're all joining in.

Sometimes it can feel like you have to do what they tell you to in order to be accepted. It can make you feel scared and alone.

It's not okay for friends to pressure you like this. And it's not your fault. Try these tips to help:

1. Say it with confidence

Be assertive. Practise saying 'no' so that it's easier when someone asks. Avoid situations which make you feel unsafe or uncomfortable. You could explain that you're going to pay for something instead of stealing it.

You could also explain how the person who is putting pressure on you is making you feel. People should respect this and your choices, but this doesn’t always happen, Childline is always here for you.

2. Find friends who share the same values

Having friends who share your values and also don’t want to do the same things as you, can make things easier. It’s easier to say no to things together.

3. Think of an excuse

It should always be ok to say no to something you don’t want to do, but if it feels too difficult then you could think of an excuse you could use, like ‘I need to be home soon.’

4. Suggest something else to do

If you don't feel comfortable doing what your friends are doing, you could suggest something else instead. You can also leave the situation if you’re feeling really uncomfortable.

5. Avoid certain situations

You could try avoiding situations where you may be under pressure to do something you don’t want to do, such as not going somewhere you know people will be drinking alcohol or taking drugs.

6. Stand up for others

If you see someone else being pressured in to do something they aren’t comfortable with, it could really help them if you stand up for them. You can persuade others to not give them a hard time, as long as you feel safe to do so.

said i didn't want to
but they all

Feeling small? Get advice on being assertive.

getting help

If you're being peer pressured and you need support, we've got advice to help.