Inform students that peer pressure can be classified into two categories: verbal peer pressure and nonverbal peer pressure. Tell students that verbal peer pressure is pressure from friends that results from spoken words. It happens when someone says something to a person that directly puts pressure on them. Verbal pressure can include threats, mockery, or insults. Nonverbal peer pressure is pressure from friends that results from unspoken words. It happens indirectly. Nothing is said to a person, but when a person sees others doing it, the person feels the pressure to do it, too. Nonverbal pressure includes the stare down, fitting in with the crowd, and the cold shoulder.
On chart paper or a board, create a T-chart with one side labeled “Verbal Peer Pressure,” and the other side labeled “Nonverbal Peer Pressure,” and ask students to provide examples of each. Tell students that while peer pressure is mostly viewed as negative, sometimes your friends’ influence can be a good thing; they may stop you from doing something that you may later regret, or they may encourage you to do something you were nervous about. Both verbal and nonverbal peer pressure can influence a person to make a choice or decision that can either be good or bad.
Next, ask for student volunteers to role-play a peer pressure scenario. (Choose from the “Peer Pressure Scenarios List” activity sheet provided with this lesson or generate your own scenario.) Role-play the scenario and then discuss using these question prompts:
- Was this peer pressure? How do you know?
- Was this pressure positive or negative?
- Was the pressure verbal or nonverbal?
- In the future, what can be done to resist this type of peer pressure?