WORD OF THE MONTH: PEER PRESSURE
Tyler loved his new sneakers. They were Nike Air and a funky orange color that reminded him of basketballs. They were also super comfy. Best of all, he played better when he wore them. With his sneakers laced up and the ball in his hands, he was king of the court!
But then, just two weeks after he got his new shoes, he walked onto the court during morning recess and saw a group of his friends huddled around one boy. He elbowed his way through the crowd.
“What’s the big idea?” he called, bouncing his ball. “Can we get the game started?”
His friend Justin pulled away from the circle and faced him.
“Come check out Mikey’s new sneakers!” he called.
Tyler moved closer until he could see for himself. Mikey’s new sneakers were right in the middle of the circle. They were high-top Adidas and they were a bold blue.
When Tyler saw Mikey’s sneakers, his toes curled up inside his Nikes and his stomach did a funny flip-flop. That day, his own shoes didn’t bring him any luck on the court. He missed two passes and didn’t sink a single shot. He trudged back to the classroom after the end-of-recess bell rang in a rotten mood.
That night, while at the dinner table, he announced to his family, “I need new sneakers.”
“New sneakers?” his mom asked. “Are you kidding me? Didn’t we just buy you those shoes a few weeks ago?”
Tyler stared down at his mashed potatoes. “I don’t like them anymore,” he grumbled, kicking the table leg.
“Why not?” asked dad. “Are they too tight on you?”
“No,” Tyler said. “But I really wanted Adidas.”
Dad sat back and looked at Tyler. “Did someone in your class come to school today with new Adidas?”
Tyler just shrugged. Dad always knew.
“Listen here, kiddo,” said dad. “Your sneakers are fine. You only want a different pair because of peer pressure.”
“Peer pressure? What’s that?”
“That’s when you want something you may not even like that much just because someone in your peer group, like your class or one of your neighbors, has it. Peer pressure can make us make really bad decisions. But if you really want new sneakers, you can use your own money. Just wait a day or two before you do. Got it?”
Tyler nodded, feeling a little happier inside. He had enough money saved up from his birthday to buy a new pair of sneakers. In just two days, he’d have his Adidas. Just like Mikey.
The next day at recess, Tyler bounced his ball onto the court and again, found his friends crowded into a large circle.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
“Come and see—Chris got new sneakers!” Justin called.
Tyler rolled his eyes. Again? But he walked up to the group and peered through the circle to check out Chris’s sneakers. They weren’t orange Nikes and they weren’t blue Adidas. Chris was wearing brand-new black Pumas.
Tyler felt his toes crawl up inside his Nikes. Chris had the best foul shot from the entire fourth grade. He was also really funny and told the best jokes. Tyler’s stomach started feeling funny again, but then he stopped short.
Yesterday, he was sure he wanted new Adidas, just because that’s what Mikey was wearing.
Today, he wanted new Pumas, like Chris.
What would he want tomorrow?
Suddenly, his Nikes felt amazing again. They were an awesome orange color. They were super comfy. And he was going to be king of the court today in his Nikes!
“Come on guys!” he called. “Let’s play some basketball!”
- Can you give three examples of decisions you made because of peer pressure?
- Why does Tyler’s dad tell him to wait before buying new sneakers?
- Can peer pressure ever be a good thing? Talk about it.