What Should You Say?

First published 2015. To view the latest Heads Up content, click here.

Peers can play a big role in how teens make decisions in both positive and negative ways. Psychologist Laurence Steinberg says one way to make smarter decisions is to have a plan before you encounter a situation where you may feel pressured by your peers to make a poor choice. Complete the activity below to practice making a plan to help you make good decisions when facing peer pressure.


Step 1: Read the scenario below.

Scenario: Jesse is having a blast at a school football game. Then a friend texts and invites Jesse and his friends over to his house after the game because his parents are out of town. Jesse’s friends want to go and are pressuring him to come along. Jesse knows that unsupervised parties are not okay with his parents, and they are expecting him to come home from the game. But he is struggling to make the right decision.

Step 2: Write a paragraph that explains why it may be difficult for Jesse to say no and what strategies he can use to help him stand up to peer pressure. Use facts from the article “The Science of Decision Making and Peer Pressure” to support your response.

Consider the following questions:

  • What are the possible risks associated with Jesse going along with his friends?
  • What are the possible benefits of him going along with his friends?
  • How do the risks compare with the benefits?
  • What strategies could Jesse use to help him make decisions when faced with peer pressure?

Step 3—Reality Check: Write a few sentences that you would actually say in a similar situation to help you stand up to peer pressure.

Click here to download and print a copy of this Work Sheet (PDF)

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