Peer Pressure

Contributor: Shannon Malkovsky. Lesson ID: 10449

If everyone around you said the moon is made of cheese, would you be the one to disagree? Find out what peer pressure is, and how to "go against the flow" and stand up for what you know is true!


Life Skills

Life Skills
learning style
personality style
Lion, Otter
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

  • Have you ever heard the story of The Emperor's New Clothes?

Watch this short video that tells the story.

The Emperor's New Clothes | Classic Tales Full Episode | Puddle Jumper Children's Animation from Puddle Jumper - Cartoons For Kids:

  • Why did everyone at the procession -- except the little boy -- pretend that the emperor had clothes on?

People sometimes do stupid or bad things because of something called peer pressure.

  • What is peer pressure?

It's the feeling that someone is pushing you to make a certain choice or behave a certain way.

Peer pressure can be good or bad.

Good Peer Pressure

Here are some examples of good peer pressure:

  • So, when is peer pressure bad?

Bad Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is bad when you do something that you know is wrong or unwise, just to go along with the crowd.

The crowd can be several people or just one. It's a group that you want to belong to, even if it's just a friendship with one other person.

Here are some examples of bad peer pressure:

We're going to focus on the bad peer pressure in this lesson.

You're going to learn how to spot it, why it works, and how to fight against it!

How to Spot Bad Peer Pressure

Bad peer pressure can either be spoken or unspoken.

Spoken pressure is when a person asks you to do something or says things to you that push you toward a bad choice.

So, if your friends wanted you to dislike someone you've never met, they might say:

  • "She's a terrible, mean person. Don't ever talk to her!"
  • "If you talk to her, I won't be your friend anymore!"
  • "Anyone who's friends with her must be really stupid!"

Unspoken pressure is when you feel pressured to do something because you see others doing it, even though they don't say anything to you.

So at the party where everyone is stuffing themselves with sweets; they may not say anything to you, but some kids may:

  • look at you like you're strange because you're not doing the same as them
  • leave you out of the group when they join up to talk or play a game

The funny thing is, a lot of those kids may not even want to eat all those sweets, but they do it because they want to fit in.

Why Peer Pressure Works

Now, here's the big question:

  • Why does peer pressure work?
  • Why do people do things they know are wrong or stupid just because other people are doing them?

The answer is: our brains are wired that way. We're made to want to be part of a group and to learn from what other people know.

But that becomes a big problem when we ignore what we know!

Watch what happens when students are asked a simple question, and then see their peers give the wrong answer.

One Simple Skill to Overcome Peer Pressure | The Behavioral Science Guys from VitalSmarts Video:

Now think again about The Emperor's New Clothes. Everyone knew that the emperor had nothing on. However, because they thought that everyone else saw the clothes and didn't want to look stupid; they didn't say anything!

Once the little boy said what everyone knew was true, they realized how stupid they were NOT to say anything before!

Speak Up!

So, the key to overcoming bad peer pressure is to speak up! Say what you know is true!

Tell what you think, respectfully and politely. Don't tell your friends that they're wrong or stupid, just suggest that your way of looking at things might be the right one!

So to that friend who doesn't want you to speak to the other girl, you could say:

  • "I don't know. I've never spoken to her, so I can't really tell if she's mean and terrible. Maybe I could talk to her now and find out."

And to the boys who are stuffing themselves with sweets, you could say:

  • "I don't know, but I think sometimes people get sick from eating too many sweets, and I really don't want to be sick tomorrow. Look, there's a bowl of fruit. Let's try some of those strawberries and grapes!"

Now, you try one.

  • What could you say to a friend who wants you to watch a movie that your parents wouldn't let you watch?

To sum up, here are some tips on how to handle peer pressure:

  1. Know that everyone's brain is wired to want to be accepted by the group and learn from them.
  2. Know that sometimes the group can be wrong and push you toward a wrong decision.
  3. Always speak up, politely, when you don't agree with the people who are putting pressure on you.
  4. Suggest something else that you can do instead!

Watch the following PSA Peer Pressure video, from Karla Santiago, to give you additional tips on how to stand up to peer pressure:

Write in your journal about a time when you experienced peer pressure.

  • What happened?
  • How did you feel?
  • Was it positive or negative peer pressure?
  • Was it spoken or unspoken pressure?
  • What did you do in that situation?
  • What have you learned that may have helped?

Then, move on to the Got It? page to see how much you've learned. You'll also get to create some great responses to a few peer pressure situations!

Elephango's Philosophy

We help prepare learners for a future that cannot yet be defined. They must be ready for change, willing to learn and able to think critically. Elephango is designed to create lifelong learners who are ready for that rapidly changing future.