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Helping Kids Handle Peer Pressure

To help the teenager assess peer alcohol influence and develop a healthy attitude toward handling the pressure.


  • Be open minded when entering into this area of the teenage world. Many young people consider alcohol use a private part of their life, and it may take time and a loving effort to allow them to include you in their thoughts and discussion.
  • Spend a few weeks around the young people in the discussion target group. Listen to them talk about drinking, partying, and social gatherings on any given Friday or Saturday night. Remember locations of parties, who was there, how the party started, etc. Make private notes on this data.
  • Drop by an open party to observe what’s happening. This may be difficult, and you may not feel welcome or comfortable, but the perspective will help you understand the situation.
  • Study data on peer pressure, especially as it pertains to adolescent drinking. Involve teenagers in this process; ask them to help you collect information. The more ownership the kids have over the sensitive issue, the more likely they are to participate in the discussion.


A time of singing is an easy way to involve kids and bring them together. Allow the kids to be themselves, "blow off" steam, and release energy together. In the same way, a skit will help break down barriers. If possible, use a skit performed by kids that focuses on some kind of peer pressure. If a skit is not possible, seek three or four teenagers to prepare a role play involving peer pressure. The group building activities must be funny in order to draw kids closer and break down their walls.


Show a videotape clip involving some kind of peer pressure. Consider searching for an appropriate scene from a television show such as "Beverly Hills, 90210." If using a video from a television show is difficult, take a video camera with you where teenagers are "hanging out" and ask them in on-camera interviews about drinking and partying within their peer group. Obtain their permission to use this tape in the introduction at the group discussion.


The following three methods are effective for developing discussion of peer pressure:

  • A large group discussion with one person leading the discussion. The leader should be comfortable in front of the group and capable to discuss the issue. Begin the session viewing a video clip; then allow the leader to help the kids process what they saw.
  • Small group discussion involving three to five teenagers and one leader. This is the best way to develop discussion, but several leaders are required for the discussions. Begin with a large group introduction, show the video clip, and then break the large group into smaller groups to talk about what they viewed.
  • Role playing. Find volunteers from the group to perform a quick role play. One possibility: Two kids are at a party. One offers the other a drink. Encourage the one offering to be highly persuasive, and the other to attempt to refrain from accepting the drink. Issues at stake include, "What will people think of me if I say no?", "How can I say no and still be cool?", and "Why shouldn’t I just go along and do what everybody else is doing?"

Ideally, include all three of these styles in your presentation. Open with an initial large group discussion, follow with two or three role plays, divide into small groups to get feedback on the large discussion and role plays, and re-group to bring all generated ideas together. The purpose of the discussion is not to condemn teens, but to help them understand that they are individuals and need to be equipped to handle outside pressures.

Some sample questions for the large or small group:

  • Do girls feel more pressure from other girls or from guys to drink alcohol?
  • What are some consequences if you drink and/or party with other teenagers?
  • What are some creative alternatives to help handle this type of pressure?
  • Can you develop a group of friends who do not pressure you or drink themselves and still be cool?

Remember to help kids study this subject in light of if, why, and how they feel pressure from their friends to drink alcohol.


This discussion is designed to help teenagers understand and handle peer influence regarding alcohol. After the small group discussion, the large group leader needs to "wrap it up" by bringing together the small groups to summarize what was covered by the role plays and the small group discussion. Reiterate the importance of accountability and continued open communication about the pressures associated with alcohol.


It is important to evaluate the program immediately following conclusion. After the kids leave, bring together the leaders of the small groups to discuss the positives and negatives of each small group interaction. Additionally, obtain their input on how the role plays were interpreted and debriefed.

Next, follow-up with the teenagers. During the following week, obtain reactions from the kids. Ask for their opinions regarding the discussion. Encourage and allow them to be honest with you. Ask if anything they heard could help them the next time they are in a pressure situation. Again, privately take notes for further discussions.


  1. Teenagers face incredible pressures to comply with a peer group. Those who work with young people and care about their nurturing must understand how they encounter these pressures.
  2. We need to enter into the teenage world and help kids develop ways to understand and process peer pressure.
  3. Youth leaders, teachers, and parents to be informed and involved in this process.
Larry E. Jesse cCYS