Overcoming Obstacles

Lesson 10: Handling Peer Pressure



Standards Addressed

  • Students will collaborate to identify types of peer pressure and role-play various scenarios involving peer pressure.
  • Students will know when peer pressure is influencing a decision.
  • Students will learn how to cope with peer pressure.
  • Students will determine meaning and develop logical interpretations by making predictions, inferring, drawing conclusions, analyzing, synthesizing, providing evidence, and investigating multiple interpretations.
  • Students will interact with others to explore ideas and concepts, and communicate meaning.

objectives

  • Students will understand and identify examples of positive and negative peer pressure.

  • Students will develop strategies to help prevent them from giving in to negative peer pressure.

materials

  • Board or chart paper and markers (“We Do”)

  • “Peer Pressure Scenarios List” activity sheet (“We Do” and “You Do”)

Starter (10 minutes)

Begin by asking students if they have ever heard of a chameleon. Tell students that chameleons have a very cool trick that they use to protect themselves from predators: They can change their color to blend in with objects around them. (If you have access to the Internet, show students the following video of a chameleon changing color: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMT1FLzEn9I.) Ask students, “Have you ever been in a situation where you have been pressured to ‘blend in’ with the crowd? Maybe you had to change who you are as a person—your appearance, your values, your friends—in order to fit in with others?” Allow students time to respond.

Then, define peer pressure by saying, “The decisions you make help define the type of person you will become. The chameleon constantly changes its colors in order to blend in. Similarly, when you constantly give in to pressure from your peers, you ultimately change who you are. In fact, you become like the chameleon and you will find that you are constantly ‘changing colors’ in order to blend in with the crowd. It is important that you choose your friends wisely and avoid the pressures from friends to do things that you may not feel comfortable doing.”

Teacher Presented Knowledge/I Do (10 minutes)

Tell students that you want to give them a list of ways that will help them to not be influenced by negative peer pressure. Review each strategy so that every student understands what it means and what it looks like in his/her life:

  1. Say “no” in an assertive way and show others that you mean what you say. If you appear confident, people won’t be so eager to try to influence you.
  2. Be kind and turn the situation into a more positive one. If you are trying to go against what others are doing or saying, give an example as to why you feel the way you do.
  3. Be repetitive. Do not change your mind. Make how you feel clear by repeating yourself if you need to. Practice makes perfect. If you practice saying “no” when you feel comfortable and around people you trust, then you will feel more confident in saying it when you’re feeling peer pressure.
  4. Walk away. If you can, walk away from the people or the situation that is making you feel pressured.
  5. Turn to a trusted friend or friends for help. If you have friends who you know will stand by your side, share your values, and will stick up for you, allow them to help you stay firm and confident in how you feel.
  6. Find help from a trusted mentor or adult. If the situation is serious and you don’t think you can handle the pressure alone, talk to a trusted adult, like a parent or teacher, about what you’re going through.
  7. Speak up if you see peers trying to pressure others. If you aren’t feeling pressured, but you know someone else is, it is likely they could use a friend and a confident supporter.
  8. Check your friendships. Ask yourself if the people you hang out with and spend time with are good influences or bad influences on your life and your thoughts. If you feel like they pressure you instead of making you confident in who you are, then you may need to decide if they are truly good friends to keep in your life.
  9. Make new friends. If you think your friends are not good people to keep around, then find people who respect you and share the same values and interests as you. You will be happier with these people as friends!

Guided Student Practice/We Do (20 minutes)

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:

  1. Was this peer pressure? How do you know?
  2. Was this pressure positive or negative?
  3. Was the pressure verbal or nonverbal?
  4. In the future, what can be done to resist this type of peer pressure?

Student Independent Practice/You Do (30 minutes)

Direct students to work in groups to plan and act out various peer pressure scenarios (use the “Peer Pressure Scenarios List” activity sheet for scenarios). Inform groups that they can decide if the main character will give in to the peer pressure or will resist the peer pressure in their scenario. Hold a discussion after each group presents their scenario to the class. Ask the following questions to prompt discussion: What type of peer pressure was represented in this scenario, verbal or nonverbal? Did the character give in to the peer pressure or resist the peer pressure? If the main character did give in to the peer pressure, what do you think the consequence(s) could be? In the future, what can be done to resist this type of pressure?

After scenarios are acted out and discussed, have students write a reflection about peer pressure. Students may write about what they learned from today’s lesson or reflect on a time when they experienced peer pressure.

Closure (5 minutes)

Say to students, “At one time or another, you will experience peer pressure. It is important that you are aware that it can be verbal or nonverbal. Peer pressure can also be positive and negative. Being aware of the different types of negative peer pressure is a great way to start resisting them.”

Student Assessment

  1. What are examples of verbal and nonverbal peer pressure?
  2. What are two ways you can resist peer pressure?
  3. Which of your personal values and beliefs would you refuse to change or give up, even if you felt pressure from another person to do so?

Extensions for Lesson 10: Handling Peer Pressure

Art Extension

Read the story One, by Kathryn Otoshi, aloud. This story is about a blue circle named One who at times longs to be like other colors. Students can use primary and secondary colors to create paintings about positive or negative peer pressure. Allow the colors of the paintings to dictate the type of peer pressure. Students can also add famous quotes or written explanations to accompany their paintings.

Art Extension

Students can create slogans, bumper stickers, billboard signs, or license plates about peer pressure.

Drama Extension

Play charades using common peer pressure sayings such as “loser” or “I dare you.”

ELA Extension

Imagine you have a pen pal asking you for advice on how to deal with peer pressure. What would you write?

Literature Extension

Read A Bad Case of Stripes, by David Shannon, to the class and ask the students to listen for examples of peer pressure. Discuss the types of peer pressure that the main character, Camilla, experienced when she tried to be like everyone else. Ask the following questions: Was the pressure positive or negative? Was it verbal or nonverbal? What specific type of peer pressure was it? How did Camilla respond to the pressure in the beginning, middle, and end? What would you have done in this same situation?

Social Studies Extension

Explain to the class that they are going to start a class-wide and/or school-wide campaign to end negative peer pressure. Students will work in small groups to come up with a slogan, hashtag, or mantra that is catchy and will remind students to stand up to negative peer pressure. (An example would be “Just say NO!”) Remind students to be creative and original, and provide students with posters and art supplies to create posters. Encourage students to create pictures that correlate with their slogans, hashtags, or mantras. Inform students that the goal of their posters is to convince their peers to not give in to peer pressure! Once the students have had ample time to create their “Stand Up to Negative Peer Pressure” posters, have the small groups present their posters to the class.


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