5 Ways to Help Your Teen Resist Peer Pressure

Teach your teen the skills she needs to resist unhealthy peer pressure.
Jamie Grill / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Today’s teens face pressure to engage in a variety of troubling behavior, ranging from driving fast to drinking alcohol. Social media and smartphones have led to even more opportunities for teens to be peer pressured.

To resist peer pressure, teens need adequate education, skills, and confidence. As a parent, it's important to proactively teach your teen the skills she needs to make the best decisions, regardless of what others are trying to convince her to do.

Here are five ways to help your teen make healthy choices and resist peer pressure:

1. Turn Disagreements into Opportunities

Disagreements are actually great opportunities to teach your teen to stand up for herself. In fact, research shows that teens that back down during arguments with their mothers struggle to resist peer pressure more than teens who debate calmly and persuasively.

So the next time your teen puts up a fight, don’t shut her down by saying, “Because I said so.” Instead, ask open-ended questions like, “Why do you think I should let you stay out an extra hour tomorrow night?”

Encourage your teen to be a critical thinker who can back up her points with persuasive arguments and she’ll be more likely to resist peer pressure from others.

2. Educate Your Teen on Serious Issues

Teens need information to make healthy choices. Don’t assume your teen understands the dangers of drugs, alcohol, sexting, or sneaking out of the house.

Talk about these issues and present clear warnings about the risks.

Build credibility with your teen by agreeing that there can be some upsides to risky behavior. Instead of insisting everything about drugs is bad, for example, explain how drug use helps some people feel good – but make it clear that there are serious consequences.

Acknowledging the potential positive aspects of risky behavior can help teens recognize why their peers may partake in danger activity, but providing them with the facts about the potential consequences can remind them why they shouldn’t join in.

3. Teach Your Teen Assertiveness Skills

Passive teens may be more likely to agree to whatever the crowd does. They may join in without considering the potential consequences of their behavior, or they may be easily victimized by others.

Identify your teen’s communication style and proactively teach your teen how to be assertive. Make it clear that she has the right to refuse to do things when she doesn’t feel comfortable. Explain how to speak up for what’s right and decline to join in activities that are risky or dangerous.

4. Practice Resisting Peer Pressure

Whether your teen is offered a drink, or she’s feeling pressured to engage in sexual activity, it’s important to help her practice saying no. Talk about various scenarios your teen is likely to face and discuss the various ways your teen can decline.

Some teens feel most comfortable using humor, while others prefer to exit the situation quickly. Discuss which strategies your teen feels most comfortable using and role play specific strategies she can use to resist peer pressure.

5. Plan Ahead for Difficult Situations

Parties, proms, and gatherings with friends are just a few of the times where teens may be invited to drink, smoke, or partake in sexual activity. Of course, there are plenty of other times teens will experience peer pressure too―such as being asked to cheat in math class.

It’s important to give your teen skills to resist peer pressure for everyday life, but it’s also essential to plan ahead for situations that are likely to be difficult. Before sending your teen off to ride in a car with friends for the first time, or prior to agreeing to let your teen go to a party, talk about potential problems your teen may face.

Problem-solve how your teen can get out of a situation if necessary. For example, encourage your teen to call for a ride home if faced with an uncomfortable circumstance. Make your expectations clear and discuss the potential consequences for making unhealthy choices.


Allen JP, Chango J, Szwedo D, Schad M, Marston E. ​Predictors of Susceptibility to Peer Influence Regarding Substance Use in AdolescenceChild Development. 2011;83(1):337-350.

Gheorghiu A, Delhomme P, Felonneau ML. Peer pressure and risk taking in young drivers’ speeding behaviorTransportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour. 2015;35:101-111.

Continue Reading