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How to Resist Peer Pressure: Strategies for Teens

How to Resist Peer Pressure: Strategies for Teens

Mix-and-match peer pressure refusal strategies to share with your teen:

It can happen before you know it: One minute your child is hanging out with friends, the next she ise doing something completely out of character—something she knows is wrong, such as drinking, smoking, or doing drugs—and it's all because of peer pressure. 

Peer pressure is a problem as old as time. While it affects people of all ages, children (especially teenagers) are more susceptible to the powers of group persuasion, largely because they have not yet developed the skills to refuse it. 

Teaching your child peer pressure refusal skills is an important first step in helping him make the right choices, even when others around him aren't doing the same. 

Occasionally one strategy isn’t enough to turn away peer pressure. In such a case, your child may have to use multiple strategies to avoid a dangerous situation.    

Here are five peer pressure refusal strategies that your teen can mix and match to help her make healthy choices:


1. Suggest a Better Idea


Sometimes all it takes is one good idea to get you off the hook. If a friend suggests doing something that you know is wrong, offer an alternate activity that will appeal to him.

For example, if your friend asks you to climb onto the school roof with him because he’s bored, suggest heading to the basketball courts for a game instead. If your friend wants to hang out in a place where you know there will be alcohol, invite her to your house to eat pizza and play video games. Often, people will take the opportunity to do the right thing if they are given the chance. The trick, of course, is to make the new idea interesting. You wouldn’t want to suggest that your friend help you do your chores instead of going to a party.


2. Ignore

Ignoring can be a great strategy, especially when it comes to kids you don’t know well. When someone is trying to pressure you into an unsafe or unwanted activity, you don’t owe that person an explanation for why you don’t want to participate. In fact, if you try to explain yourself the other person may take it as an invitation to try to convince you otherwise. Ignore them. Ignore them and walk away. Or perhaps ignore and suggest a better idea. 

Another great place to use ‘ignore’ is in the classroom. For example, if a student is trying to engage you in conversation while the teacher is talking, ignoring and pretending that you didn’t hear that student can be an effective way to keep out of trouble.  


3. Walk Away

When the peer pressure is too much to handle or you don’t trust yourself to keep saying no, walk away and remove yourself from the situation. When you walk away from peer pressure you immediately eliminate the ability of others to affect you—and you just might be walking towards more positive friends and opportunities. 


4. Say No 

It’s hard to say no to your friends. The pressure to fit in is what makes peer influence so effective. That being said, saying NO can still be an effective way to shut down an uncomfortable request. If you choose to Say No as your strategy, say NO with conviction. Leave no doubt in the other person’s mind that you mean it and will not be convinced otherwise. Saying no is about making it abundantly clear that you flatly refuse to participate. That's it. End of discussion. 


5. Make an Excuse

Maybe you have basketball practice. Perhaps you have to watch your little sister after school, or maybe your mom told you to be home by six and she’ll ground you for life if you aren’t. All of these excuses are perfectly good reasons for not smoking, drinking, or doing drugs. Ask your parent or guardian if you can use him or her to help you get out of an unsafe situation in the future. My mom will kill me if I’m not home is universal excuse that any kid can understand. 


Don't Waste Another Minute

Every child will have to deal with peer pressure at some point in his life. Don't wait until it's too late. Share these five strategies with your child so that he or she is armed with the skills he needs to make positive choices. 

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RELATED: Find local resources and professionals to help your kids' behavior and discipline issues.

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Community Awareness Network For A Drug-Free Life And Environment, Inc. (CANDLE) was founded as a non-profit organization in 1982 (celebrating 35 years). Its mission is to prevent substance abuse and violence among youth. CANDLE's goal is to improve the health and climate of our schools and our communities by providing prevention education and resistance strategies to youth and their adult allies, and support programs for young people at risk. CANDLE is located at 120 North Main Street, Suite 301 in New City or by calling 845.634.6677.

CANDLE staff work with nearly every school in Rockland County.  

For more information, visit


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