There are some very common peer pressure taunts that have withstood the test of time. They were used 50 years ago or 100 years ago, and they are just as effective today as they were then. In my next two blog posts, we are going to talk about Peer Pressure, and a Sunday school lesson, with games and activities that you can use to tackle this touchy subject with your students.
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. By discussing certain peer pressure taunts, they can see how God might tell them to respond, and also share what has worked already for them with other students who are struggling.
Ten Common Peer Pressure Taunts (& what they really mean)
Peer Pressure Taunts. We’ve all heard them. Here is a list of what they really mean.
1) “You’re such a baby” really can sing when it comes at you. It’s a common trait for “˜Tweeners to try to appear older than they are; hence being accused of being younger can cause pressure to build. The person who says this is being particularly manipulative, not just calling names, but using one that really hurts at your age. Try tokeep in mind that a person who says this is showing his immaturity; mature people (think of college students) don’t manipulate with taunts, don’t call people names, and don’t do things that you might get others to do by calling them a “baby.”
Best response: Laugh and walk away. Proverbs 26:4 says, “Don’t respond to a fool in his folly, lest you become like him.”
2) “Why not?? Nobody will tell!” ignores a truth that most of us hold to be self”evident: God sees all. And it’s not just your conscience you will have to worry about later, it’s the question, “What is God going to do about this?” It will follow you around, full of unneeded suspense. We’ve been talking a lot about talking to God and listening to God because He’s the best friend you can have. But when you push it over the top and endanger yourself or somebody else, He’ll act in your best interest. He can give Mom one of those E.S.P. moments where she just knows something’s up with her kid. (Ask any parent. It happens a lot.) Or when you need Him and go to talk to Him, you’ll feel him staring, all, “Why’d you do that?”
Best response: “That’s not the point. I don’t want to.” Psalm 121:4 says, “Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” He’s not going to miss what you do. If nobody tells, He may tell on you.
3) “What are you afraid of” is kind of like the “baby” thing, as it has the ring of “scared”y cat.” The person who says this is appealing to your pride in hopes of manipulating you. It is a “loaded” question assuming that you actually are afraid.
Best response: Isaiah 41:10 says, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” A best response could be, “I’m not afraid. I just don’t want to.”
4) “You’re so weird!” Is again like “you’re such a baby” because it stoops to name calling. It hits a different sensitive spot because “˜Tweeners are in the “conformity” stage of development. They struggle when they feel they’re different. In our language “weird” is the ultimate “different” word. It stings. Take it again that a person who uses it to put pressure on someone is manipulatuve. They’re getting you where it hurts. It’s not the sign of a friend or anyone you’d want to hang out with unless his or her behavior changes. Count your blessings.
A best response: “Sticks and stones”¦.” Even though kids can use that word like they’re chucking a spear, they tend to respect people who dare to stand up to them.
5) “You’re such a teacher’s pet” means that you’re good. It isn’t exactly an insult, though a tone can make it sound that way. Also an unfortunate and confusing truth about the “˜Tweeners passage is that bad things become good to some kids, and good things become bad. The more bad stuff a kid does, the cooler he appears sometimes. Being a good student is bad to them. Keep in mind the illogic. These kids are not good; in fact they’re being awful. And they’re not cool, no matter how cool they think they are.
In John 8:44, Jesus accuses the cool people of his day, too: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth.”
A best response: “Oh well.” A note of sarcasm and a good shrug may flavor it up.
6) “You’re no fun anymore!” actually contains a threat, which raises anxiety when it comes our way. The threat is, “I’m not going to be your friend anymore unless you do x/y/z.” Often this comes from a long”standing friend who, while growing older, is testing some limit and wants you to take the risk with him or her. It’s not the way friends should act: “If I get punished, gee, I’d like you there with me!” But because it comes from a friend, it might actually be time to confront.
A best response: “You know, I’ve been feeling that way about you. I feel like you’re out to prove something.” Maybe you can get him or her to turn back.
7) “I’m not hanging out with you anymore if you don’t”¦” is actually a full”frontal version of “you’re no fun anymore.” This person isn’t bothering to manipulate; he’s outright threatening you. How do you respond to a threat? Not with a threat. “Don’t return evil for evil,” says Romans 12:17.
A good response is in the high road: “That would make me sad. I hope you change your mind.” Then walk away quickly because a person this inflamed will probably keep it up.
8) “Nothing’s going to happen!” means the person thinks there will be no consequences. It is very common in teenagers and kids even younger to not fear consequences or not be able to gauge out what the consequences of something will be. People do die; they do get injured; they do get caught. All the time. No amount of pressuring changes that truth. A person who says this is suffering the worst of a breed of immaturity.
A best response: “I just don’t believe that.” Isaiah 8:10 says, “Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted; propose your plan, but it will not stand.” Especially with the Christian whom God loves, something probably will happen”¦at the very least, you’ll probably get caught.
9) “Everybody’s doing it” means the person who said it has seen ten or twelve people doing it, and he becomes blind to everyone who isn’t. Here’s a way to test it: Go through your school yearbook from last year. Whatever everyone is supposed to be doing”¦go through every student in your grade. Put your finger on his or her picture, and count how many people you’ve actually seen doing whatever it is.
“Everyone minus one,” is a long”standing best response to this one. If you’re a very mature kid, you may even be able to say to God when you talk to him: “I don’t care if everyone on earth deserts you”¦I won’t!” You’ll get immense snaps for taking that stance.
10) “Who told you that? Your mother?” goes along with wearing an outfit that doesn’t fit with everyone else’s but you think it’s cute, or having confidence and thinking you’re good at something. The insinuation is that nobody believes parents because parents are stupid. Disrespect for parents has gotten totally inflamed in the past two generations. History hasn’t known as much disrespect ever before. Some people think 2 Timothy 3:1″5 applies to today: “There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love”¦” That’s scary.
Don’t disrespect anyone’s parents. And if anyone does it to you, just walk away.
To be continued!!
In our next article, I’ll continue this Sunday school lesson and give you some activities and discussion ideas to use to build on this topic, so you can begin to help your students recognize the signs and consequences of peer pressure! So stay tuned, and be sure to subscribe to our RSS feed, or Become a Fan on Facebook, so you can receive the latest updates automatically!