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Right Decisions Right Now

Grade 7

How Friends Fit In

In this section, students explore their relationships with others. The activities focus on peer relationships and how peer pressure, influence, and acceptance affect their lives. There are also activities on refusal skills to help equip students with strategies for saying "no."

Activity 4: Peer Pressure and Influence—Do Your Friends Affect Your Decisions?

  • Skills: Understanding peer relationships/Dealing with peer pressure
  • Suggested Time Consideration: 30 minutes
  • Rationale

    It’s important for your students to understand that no one enjoys being excluded by peers or doing things that will make peers like them any less. However, we can and should make decisions based on what we think is best for us, rather than on what we want others to think of us.

  • Getting Started

    Before starting the activity, remind your students that peer pressure occurs when the words or actions of our friends push us to do something we don’t want to do. Peer influence is the urge we sometimes feel to do something other people are doing because we want them to think highly of us. (See the Overview Booklet for additional information about peer pressure and influence.)

    Read the following examples and comments to your students:

    • Peer influence and peer pressure can have positive effects. For example, one of the boys on the football team is lazy, but when he sees all the other boys lifting weights to get ready for the upcoming season, he joins in. His decision is not based on his desire to do the work but on his desire to fit in with his teammates.
    • Peer pressure can have negative effects as well. When a group of students that we want to like us all decide to cut math class and they invite us to join them, we might do so. We don’t really want to miss the class, and we wouldn’t cut it if no one else did, but we decide to go along because we like the approval we receive from the others in the group. Explain to students that when they understand peer pressure, they don’t have to give in to it. For example, we can decide that we will go to math class, even if it costs us some popularity with the others.

    In this exercise you will give your students four situations, one at a time. They will determine whether each situation is an example of peer influence or peer pressure and consider how the person being influenced or pressured might be feeling. For each situation, they will also complete a “choices and consequences” type of activity that will give them an opportunity to decide what they would do. In this case, students may go back and change their minds—but remind them they can’t always do that in real life. You may opt to present this activity on an interactive whiteboard or have students complete it individually. Share the digital activity link below with your students. Then, read through the instructional text and first situation with students to help them get started.

    Launch Activity

  • Talking About It

    Ask students to pause after they read each situation and wait for your instructions. For each situation, say to students:

    • Put yourself in the character’s position. What sort of conflicting feelings might the characters have?
    • What choices does the character have?
    • Do you think you would give in to the pressure or influence in this situation?
    • Have you ever been in this situation or a similar one?

    Answers:
    Answers about the character’s feelings and the choices students make in each situation will vary. The situations are examples of:

    1. peer pressure
    2. peer pressure
    3. peer influence
    4. peer pressure

     

    After discussing the situations, break the class down into small groups and ask each group to come up with two scenarios. In one, have them devise an example of positive peer influence. Then have them devise an example involving tobacco in which negative peer influence or pressure is felt. Each group should act out its scenarios for the rest of the class.

  • Wrapping Up

    To wrap up, talk about the difference between influence and pressure (or coercion), emphasizing the fact that—whether positive or negative—friends and peers can only encourage a certain behavior. A person is ultimately responsible for his or her decisions and the consequences.

    Use the supplemental “Eggin’” video to complement this section.

  • Materials

Grade 7 Overview Booklet

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Overview Booklet

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