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Grind Your Mind

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Skateboard with Matt through this animated quiz on peer pressure! Get the questions right and check out Matt perform some cool tricks on his skateboard. After playing the quiz read below on how to handle peer pressure.

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Peer Power

Take a look around the next time you're in school, at cross-country practice, or at the movies with friends — the people you see around you make up your "peer group." They're the people you see just about every day. They're sympathetic to your situation with the 'rents, teachers, and siblings 'cause they're going through the same things you are. Having a peer group means that you get to hang out with people who totally get you and, even better, give you some independence from adults.

A peer group can encourage you to do good things like help others, try new things, or just kick back. Who doesn't love an afternoon of pizza and hanging out with pals? But your peers can just as easily try to make you do things that you would never normally do and could potentially harm you. What can you do?

The easiest way to deal with peer pressure — the bad kind at least — is to avoid it altogether. Surround yourself with people you like, who like you, and who like doing things you like doing (things that won't get you grounded for life), and you'll be far less likely to become a victim of peer pressure. But there is more you can do.

Tip: When is a conflict not a conflict at all?
Elli with butterflies in stomach
First, be aware of what's going on around you. Are you comfortable with the people you're with? Listen to your gut feelings. If something seems to be not right, or if someone is trying to persuade you to do something bad, say "no." Get out of the situation, even if they say you won't get hurt or into trouble. Chances are they wouldn't have to work so hard to convince you if they didn't know something was wrong. Your true friends won't make you try anything you don't want to. They'll respect your choice to say "no." If you still aren't sure what type of peer pressure you are facing, a helpful rule is this: If it makes you feel bad, you should think twice before you do it!
listening to your gut
Making Choices

To make the smart choice when your pals are pressuring you, look at both sides of the scenario and weigh your options. Your friends may make a convincing case to skip class - but what if you miss a pop quiz or your parents find out (or — worse — your parents find out 'cause you missed a pop quiz)? Is it worth ruining your grade and getting in trouble twice — now for skipping class, later for lousy grades?

The other thing to know is that what you do may affect someone else in ways you never thought possible. Skipping out on your chores to hang with your friends seems fun, but what if your mom's friend slips on the leaves you didn't rake, or your dog gets sick from eating some nastiness off the plate you left on your bedroom floor? A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself a few key questions, "What can go wrong?" and "Can something good come out of this?" Knowing when and how to say "no" will help you to back out when your buds are trying to convince you to do something that could get you busted.

No way, Jose!

So how do you say no? It can be tough to stand up for yourself, but there are some things you can do to make it less stressful. Keep a truthful excuse in mind for these times, like "I've got to go face Mount Algebra before my favorite tv show tonight" or "I'm just off of being grounded and don't want to get thrown back in the cell" or "My parents promised to buy me new duds if I didn't get in trouble before the spring dance." Keep in mind that you don't always have to explain yourself. Sometimes a simple "No, thanks — I gotta jet" is plenty.

Taking risks can seem really fun and exciting — and some of them are good for you. The trick is to take those risks that teach you something new or makes you a better person. So instead of breaking into an abandoned house, suggest learning to rock climb or playing a game of golf next Saturday. All it usually takes is one person to make another suggestion — people will fall in line and join in the real fun.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30333, U.S.A
Tel: (404) 639-3311 / Public Inquiries: (404) 639-3534 / (800) 311-3435