Putting a Positive Spin on Peer Pressure

Peer pressure has the potential to be a powerfully positive force. By leading students through self-awareness activities, you can create a group of peers who value individualism, practice it in their own lives, and encourage it in others.
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4. Work it

  • Ask students to think of one positive and one negative example of peer pressure that they've experienced or witnessed within the past week. Students may have personally experienced the pressure, seen pressure exerted on someone else, or even exerted pressure themselves.
  • Ask students to write a few paragraphs describing each example. Invite volunteers to share their experiences by either reading what they've written or by explaining the situations in their own words. Remind students that all responses to this assignment are okay and that none should be laughed at or criticized.
  • As students share their examples, point out ways in which the examples relate to the information that students generated in activities 1, 2, and 3.

5. Practice it
Explain that you are declaring your classroom a "Positive Peer Pressure Zone" and that you will be on the lookout for examples of positive and negative peer pressure. When you see an example of positive peer pressure in action, you will "call it" and reward it. (Before this discussion, decide how you will reward positive peer pressure, e.g., with special privileges, points toward a prize, praise, etc.) Invite students to be part of this process, too, by "calling" positive examples that they see in your classroom.

* You may want to leave the information generated by activities 1, 2, and 3 on the board for a period of time. You might also consider transferring the information to paper so that you can post it permanently in your classroom or pass it out when your class needs a positive peer pressure boost.


  • Epstein, Bruce A., M.D. "The Importance of Peer Pressure!" About Network: Ask JoAnn, January 25, 1993.
  • Gerne, Patricia J., and Timothy A. Gerne. "Feeling Peer Pressure." Indiana University 1996, The Center for Adolescent Studies (Prentice Hall: 1991). (http://education.indiana.edu/cas/tt/v3i3/peerpress.html)
  • Gilbert, Chachi, and Nakesha Hill. "Peer Pressure Affects Teens." HighWired.com, Inc., March 1, 1999.
  • "Teaching Values: Self-Determination." An Ask Eric lesson plan.

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