students walking into school

While teachers and staff can’t control the creation and distribution of negative peer pressure in a school, they can employ methods that mitigate its effects. 

You can achieve a less stressful and positive school environment by focusing on positive peer influences, establishing safe places, and encouraging open communication between staff and students. Here is a deep dive into how these positive factors can guide children away from negative peer pressure.


While negative peer pressure is a common issue among children, kids can also experience positive peer influence. An example of positive peer influence is when students form study groups for particularly stressful classes, encouraging each other to focus on their education by helping or tutoring each other. 

Another form of positive peer influence is dissuading others from gossiping — a common occurrence in schools. As a teacher, you can address gossip at its root without shaming your students in the process, helping them think differently. For example, a child may start gossiping by stating “Did you see her hair yesterday? It was so dirty!” Offering a different perspective by stating, “Maybe her shower was broken,” can help children become more empathetic and open-minded in their interactions.

Other ways to focus on positive peer influence include encouraging healthy relationships with peers who also have positive interests, such as getting an after-school job, saving money for a big purchase, and discouraging illicit or risky behavior.


Returning to school can be stressful for any student in today’s world with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, racial tensions, and other stressors such as bullying. It might be difficult to process the events that occurred over the past few years as an adolescent, so creating a safe space is crucial to learning in a positive school climate.

You can implement safe places in many different ways. In the classroom, a small nook can be a safe place where a child can go to gather their emotions and calm down. Similar to other safe sites and resources, conscious discipline is a social-emotional learning program that walks a child through three steps: I calm, I feel, and I choose. The process begins with the child feeling upset and going to a safe place. They then take breaths to calm down and identify their feelings. Lastly, the student uses a self-regulation activity (e.g., journaling).

Safe places may also encompass the school counselor’s office or be demonstrated through active listening as a teacher. Students should feel safe when they’re at school and able to speak to their teachers or counselors openly. To help those who struggle to communicate, adults should know the signs something is wrong.


No child wants to feel left out of a peer group, so avoiding peer pressure can be difficult. Teachers, aids, and staff can work with their students on role-play activities that mirror a negative peer pressure situation they might face. Staff and the students can then create a plan to keep students from feeling lost or like they need to give in.

Additionally, cultivate and encourage open communication between staff and students to create a positive, comfortable environment, and establish procedures for handling bullying situations and sensitive topics. 

Students will spend a lot of time in the school atmosphere, so being aware of your surroundings and noticing when something doesn’t seem right is a good indicator of when to step in or communicate with students.


Programs that pair students with mentors can significantly alleviate the impact of negative peer influence and promote an encouraging educational atmosphere. These initiatives can take many forms, including inter-student mentoring, where senior students share their wisdom with their junior counterparts, or faculty-student mentorship, where educators or school staff guide learners. 

These unique relationships can grant students an open and secure platform to share their worries or stressors, seek guidance and support, and benefit from the wisdom of those who have more life experience. Mentors can model positive conduct, setting an example that refutes negative peer influences. For students lacking other sources of wholesome guidance in their lives, these relationships can be immensely beneficial.

Mentoring initiatives can be expanded by weaving social and emotional learning (SEL) elements into the mix. SEL training assists students in understanding and controlling their feelings, formulating and attaining positive goals, demonstrating empathy, establishing and preserving healthy relationships, and making informed choices. When embedded within a mentoring structure, SEL can arm students with the necessary skills to navigate tricky social landscapes, such as peer pressure, while bolstering their self-esteem and enabling them to resist harmful influences. 


Empowering students through conflict resolution training plays a vital role in fostering an environment free from negative peer pressure. Such training equips students with the skills to navigate disagreements and conflicts in a healthy, constructive manner and helps them to build relationships based on respect and understanding. At the same time, conflict resolution works to diminish the prevalence of negative peer pressure often arising from misunderstandings or power imbalances.

Practical training sessions involving role-plays or hypothetical scenarios enable students to develop strategies such as active listening, empathy, negotiation, and compromise. Beyond promoting a positive school atmosphere, this instills valuable life skills with long-lasting benefits beyond the classroom.

Implementing conflict resolution mechanisms can have a ripple effect on the broader school culture. When students witness conflicts being resolved appropriately and peacefully, it fosters a sense of safety and trust within the school environment. It sends a clear message that aggression, manipulation, or other forms of negative peer pressure are neither acceptable nor effective methods for resolving disagreements. 


Expanding extracurricular activities presents a significant advantage in building students’ resilience against negative peer pressure while enhancing their overall school experience. These activities go beyond the traditional classroom setting and provide students with opportunities to explore their unique abilities, pursue their interests, and express themselves through their passions, while also fostering positive social networks, connecting like-minded peers, and providing students with purpose and direction.

Schools play a vital role in nurturing a sense of belonging by offering diverse activities, including sports, arts, academic clubs, and community-focused societies. This feeling of belonging to a group or cause translates into heightened self-confidence and self-worth, acting as a protective shield against the detrimental effects of negative peer pressure. Within these extracurricular spaces, students have the opportunity to uplift one another, creating an atmosphere of encouragement and mutual respect that starkly contrasts environments plagued by negativity.

Moreover, integrating conflict resolution training into the school curriculum empowers students to effectively manage disagreements and misunderstandings. By equipping students with knowledge and skills for constructive and respectful conflict resolution, schools provide essential tools for navigating today’s complex social landscapes. These conflict resolution skills enable students to manage and de-escalate potential conflicts, thereby reducing the prevalence of negative peer pressure. 

Cultivating a culture that encourages peaceful and respectful resolution of disagreements fosters a harmonious and supportive environment conducive to personal growth and academic achievement.

There is no way to avoid peer pressure, but being a positive influence on students and creating a positive atmosphere can help them to make the right decision. For information, referrals, and additional resources turn to Wellspring Center For Prevention offices at 732-254-3344.

Photo by Stanley Morales

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