Grades 8 & 9

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 Power

  • Skills: Understanding/Dealing with peer pressure, influence, and acceptance
  • Suggested Time Consideration: 60 minutes
  • Rationale

    In this activity, students will write and act out skits that depict peer pressure and peer influence so that they can better understand options for how to handle both of these. (See the Overview Booklet for additional information about peer pressure and peer influence that you can share with your students.)

  • Getting Started

    Begin by reminding students about the difference between peer pressure (which is exerted when peers try to coax a person into doing something) and peer influence (which occurs when a person is not coaxed or coerced, but comes to behave in a certain way because he or she thinks it’s what will make others accept him/her.) Provide examples for students:

    • Peer pressure: You are at the high diving board at the county pool, and your friends are diving off. You don’t want to, but they say you’re a baby if you don’t. They dare you, so you go ahead and try it.
    • Peer influence: Someone at school is taking up a collection for a hurricane relief fund. You gave money to a similar fund yesterday, so you don’t want to do so again. But when the person comes to your lunch table, you notice that all of your friends donate money. You do too, because you think they will think ill of you if you don’t.

    Organize the students into small groups and share the digital activity link with them. Explain that each group’s assignment is to create a skit that displays peer pressure or peer influence. Peer influence can be depicted as positive or negative.

    Launch Activity

  • Talking About It

    After each group performs its skit, ask the students why they chose their topic, and why they depicted it the way they did. Open the discussion to the entire classroom and ask for feedback.

    • Was the skit realistic?
    • Could other students identify with the dilemmas that were presented?
  • Wrapping Up

    To wrap up, have students reiterate the notion that they don’t have to succumb to peer influence or pressure to be liked and accepted by their true friends. One way to do this is to ask students whether they would think any less of a friend who refused to be pressured into something by them. If not, why should they expect any less from that friend? For instance, pose this scenario:

    You want to borrow money from a good friend, but she turns you down. You remind her of the times you’ve lent her money. You tell her how much you need the money, and you tell her that this is what friends do for one another. She answers by telling you that while she very much appreciates the times you have lent her money, she simply can’t afford to lend you any right now.

    Ask your students:

    • How would you react if you were the one in need of money?
    • You may be disappointed with your friend, but will you abandon her as a friend?

    Emphasize to your students that they are unlikely to abandon a friend for saying “no.” Nor would the friend abandon them if they did the same.

  • Materials

Grade 8-9 Overview Booklet


Overview Booklet