Peers are people who you hang out with. They are usually other people just like you and can be one or more of the following:
- Kids or teenagers who are your age
- Friends outside school
- Students in your year level
- People in the groups you join like sports clubs, teams or youth groups
- Cultural groups
- They can also be your family, cousins, and neighbours
Friend pressure can be either negative power or positive power; it can help you to do good things or bad. Being in a group is important but you have to decide who are friends with good influence and who are those with not-so-good influence.
Friends who are good for you
Friends can have a good affect on you. For example, a good friend might get you involved in some things you can feel proud about.
And you can influence others in a positive way by:
- Sincerely saying nice and supportive things to them
- Helping them to try new things
- Accepting their differences
- Getting them involved in positive group activities at school
- Caring about their feelings
- Caring about their safety
- Getting them involved in out-of-school activities like youth centre Activities, fishing, family or cultural activities
- Helping them to join groups like sport teams, music bands and dance groups
- Helping them to ask for help from parents, carers or teachers if they need more help, support or advice
Your friends and group can offer you lots of good things, such as:
- Sharing things in their life like sport, art or music and introducing you to new ideas
- Helping you feel like you belong and are valued for who you are
- Helping you feel that your friends care about you
- Helping you to feel safe and to try out new ideas
- Helping you to meet all sorts of other people and learn what they think about things
- Helping you learn to get along with people and work together
- Good friends care about how you feel and support you to be the best you can be.
Friends who are not good for you
Pressure from friends can be very powerful; it can make you feel you have to do something that you might not usually want to do. It is when you choose to do this to fit in, or be a ‘main actor’ to these friends that you start to get into trouble. Some examples include:
- A student in school might try to get you to help him/her bully another student.
- A team member might try to get you to carry yarn about another player and not pass the ball to that person.
- A friend might want you to help them get money from another student.
Kids tell us the main reasons they give in to friend pressure are because:
- they want to be liked
- they want to fit in
- they are worried other kids will make fun of them if they don’t go along with the group
- they think – ‘everyone’s doing it so maybe I should do it too’
- they feel they need to stand up for their family
- they are worried they will lose their friendships if they don’t go along with the group
- Remember if your friends are pressuring you to do something you know is wrong, or to do something you feel uncomfortable about doing, then you need to think carefully about your choices and decide whether this is really worth doing.
- A good rule is: if it makes you feel bad, it is probably bad for you.
Choose your friends carefully
Dealing with pressures from friends can be difficult for everyone. It can really help to have at least one friend who is willing to say ‘no’ too. This takes a lot of the power out of peer pressure and makes it much easier to resist doing the things you don’t want to or feel uncomfortable about.
Here are some ways to avoid negative pressure before it happens:
- Make friends with people who have similar beliefs to you. This way, you can back each other up when needed.
- Make your own choices. Get to know who you are and what is good for you and your life.
- Before you make a decision, think about what could go wrong and decide ahead of time what to do.
- Hang out with people you can trust and who like you for who you are.
- Learn early the difference between an acquaintance and a friend. An acquaintance is someone you know but is not a close friend.
If you have a friend who is pressuring you to do something you don’t want to do, it is really important that you talk to someone about what is happening. Talk to someone who you know will listen and help you. When we spoke to Yamaji kids in year 4-7 they said they would tell their teacher and their mum.
Yamaji kids in year 8-10 said of all the people they could talk with about bullying they would tell their mum and their nana. Other people they said they could tell are:
- Their dad
- The AIEO(ATA or AEW)
- Their nana or pop
- An aunty or uncle
- Other friends
- A cousin
- Sports coach
- The school principal
Helping your friends
What should you do if your friend has a problem or is in trouble? Suppose your friend doesn’t want to talk about it? Or maybe he/she has asked you to promise not to tell anyone?
These situations are not easy. Sometimes just being there and listening is enough, but sometimes they might need more help than you can give them.
Helping a friend
Don’t ignore bullying if it is happening to your friends. You can help. Don’t let the students who bully get away with thinking that no one will do anything. Here are a few things you can do:
- ask a teacher or support person for help
- let the person doing the bullying know that what they are doing is bullying and that it is wrong
- refuse to join in with the bullying and walk away
- support the student who is being bullied
- support your friends and protect them from bullying by being there for them (children who are alone are more likely to be the target of bullying)
- when you can’t sort it out yourself, ask an adult for help
You can talk to your AIEO (ATA or AEW), teacher or principal that you want your school to be a Solid School; refer them to this website for some ideas!
When friends have an argument or fight
Sometimes you and your friends may have an argument or fight. Sometimes the things that are said or done can be very hurtful. Maybe one friend has been mean or carried yarns; or maybe the other friend let them down or something they said came out wrong. Whatever the reason, sometimes the falling out can be very serious and the friends don’t make up. It can feel terrible when someone who was part of your life is suddenly not there.
Always talk to someone you trust (parents or carers, aunties or uncles, nana or pop, brother or sister, cousin) to find ways of fixing up the friendship or at least being able to move on without feeling really bad.