It’s important to prepare students for facing peer pressure, which today causes more anxiety in middle and high school students than bad grades and even family problems. In this lesson, kids will “walk the Peer Pressure Mile,” an assimilation of the pressures they may feel related to these activities. However, it may dredge up some of the emotions they have in response to real peer pressure. They’ll discuss certain peer pressure taunts, how God might tell them to respond, and share what has worked already for them.
Peer Pressure Mile Materials
- Cell phone
- Sheets of paper (enough for each student to have one)
- Marker pen
Write on each piece of paper in big marker letters the following peer pressure taunts:
- You’re such a baby!
- Why not?? Nobody will tell!
- What are you afraid of?!
- You’re so weird!
- You’re such a teacher’s pet!
- You’re no fun anymore!
- I’m not hanging out with you anymore if you don’t…
- Nothing’s going to happen!
- Everybody’s doing it!
- Who told you that? Your mother?
Think of more if you have more students than this. Put them in a pile upside down for now.
Peer pressure gives most kids in grades 5 and up more stress than difficult tests, bad grades, and problems at home. Why do you think that is?
As kids grow older, they get more into their friends than their family; bad grades don’t “talk about you;” it makes you feel tons of anxiety.
We’re going to work on giving you tools to help you fight feeling pressured. But the first thing we have to do is size up the enemy. First, we’re going to acknowledge how strong peer pressure really is by walking the “Peer Pressure Mile.” Then we’re going to identify some situations that you might find yourself in.
- Have kids form two lines facing each other with the exception of one student who should stand off to the side. There should be a three‐foot path between the two lines.
- Give each student in both lines each a paper with a peer pressure taunt on it (see Group Activity Prep). Tell them to memorize it quickly, then ball the piece of paper up.
- Tell the student you pulled aside to walk between the two lines.
- Have other students repeat the taunt over and over and throw the balled up piece of paper at her as she walks past.
- Have everyone retrieve a balled up piece of paper (not necessarily the one they had before). Open it enough to read the new taunt, memorize it quickly, then balled it up again.
- Have another student pulled off the side who will take a turn walking the peer pressure mile.
- Repeat the exercise until everyone has had a chance to walk the peer pressure mile.
Note: Some kids may laugh, but some kids may actually feel traumatized by going down the line. Keep repeating. It’s just a game if you see signs.
When everyone has had their turn, have them each pick up a taunt, return to the table, and spread them out.
Everyone seemed to have their own response to walking the peer pressure mile. How did it make you feel?
Let all who are willing answer. There are no right or wrong answers. Encourage and praise all answers, unless you have a loud or intimidating student who insists he/she felt nothing. That person can sometimes “peer pressure” a class. If you have one, keep insisting
The Peer Pressure Mile is not fun. Peer pressure makes almost everyone feel pressured to conform.
Walking the Peer Pressure Mile (Without Falling on Your Face) Discussion
Before being seated, have everyone retrieve a peer pressure taunt and come to the table with it.
Have any of you felt peer pressure already? Let them site examples.
How did you get out of it, or did you? Let them tell what they did about it. Assure them that nothing leaves the room, that what they confide in your presence stays with you (unless it’s truly dangerous).
Why do you think kids respond to peer pressure? They want to be liked, don’t want to stand out, don’t want to be made fun of, want to look older…
People in the Bible felt Peer Pressure Too:
1. Moses got laughed at by the rich and cool Egyptians who thought he was a huge dork.
LOOKUP: Exodus 5:1‐6
What did Moses end up doing?
2. David was called a spoiled and conceited little jerk by his big brothers (maybe an hour before he killed Goliath)
LOOKUP: 1 Samuel 17:28‐29
What position in Israel did David end up holding?
3. David got sincerely bullied by an NBK (natural born killer) who was three‐plus feet taller than he was (and who probably hadn’t bathed in a month and had never brushed his teeth in his life).
LOOKUP: 1 Samuel 17:41‐44
What would have happened if David had caved in or run?
4. Once the prophet Elijah had to stand his ground, saying the God of Israel is the real God, and the prophets of Baal are stupid fakes. He was kind of outnumbered: 450 to 1.
LOOKUP: 1 Kings 18:21‐24
Have you ever been mocked by 5 or 6 people at one time? What did it feel like?
5. Jesus was tormented by bullies—who made him dress up in a purple robe and a crown of thorns—just after he’d been beaten within an inch of his life and sentenced to death.
LOOKUP: Luke 23:11
What would have been different if Jesus had said, “I’m the Son of the Living God. I don’t have to put up with this”? He may have saved himself from further torment, but there would have been no sacrifice for our sins. The Holy Spirit would not have come, and we’d sstll be living in utter darkness.
6. Think of a dad protecting his child in a hurricane. How might that image relate to God, you, and peer pressure?
LOOKUP: Psalm 91:11&12
We’re going to give you an opportunity to work on some planning of your own to avoid peer pressure and share some ways that have worked for other kids over the years.
Don’t forget to hand out Ten Most Popular Peer Pressure Taunts (& What They Really Mean)! And stay tuned for Part 3 of this Peer Pressure series!
Will you be using this Peer Pressure lesson with your students? Please come back and share your experiences! I would love to hear some feedback on how the students respond!
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