Use this Preteen Sunday School Lesson: Peer Pressure to help kids stand up to their friends’ negative influences and resist peer pressure.
1. Pressed-Give children Silly Putty and newspaper comic strips and allow them to transfer images onto their Silly Putty. Then press a newspaper comic strip character onto a flattened piece of Silly Putty. Show children the image and stretch the putty as you say: “God has created each of us. God has the right to form us since he is the artist who gave us life. When we’re pressured by our friends to do something other than God’s desire for us, we give in to peer pressure and compromise. We become something God didn’t intend for us to be.”
2. Jesus’ Peers–Say: “Many times our closest friends have the strongest influence over us. Let’s see how Jesus dealt with peer pressure from a close friend.”
Read aloud Matthew 16:21-23.
Ask: “How did Jesus react when his close friend tried to persuade him not go to Jerusalem and risk persecution? What would’ve happened if Jesus had given in to Peter’s peer pressure? What would the world be like today if Jesus had given in to that peer pressure?”
Say: “Peter was trying to protect Jesus. However, people who keep us from doing what God wants us to do, conform us or press us into the world’s pattern instead of God’s pattern.”
3. Whatcha Gonna Do?-Form groups of no more than four. Give each group a 3X5 card with one of these examples written on it: (1) You’re at school and you want to play football, but the kid who has a football is absent. Your friends tell you to take the ball from his locker. Decide the best choice: (a) take it because he’ll never know; (b) tell someone else to take it; or (c) suggest the group play something else. (2) While riding bikes, you and your friends begin to talk about smoking and drinking. They pressure you to smoke. Decide the best choice: (a) say, “Why ask me, ask Bill to”; (b) say, “I don’t want to try it” and then leave; or (c) try the cigarette and then pass it on.
Have groups each role play their situation with their chosen response and then explain why they made that choice. Discuss each group’s choice.
4. Pressed-Show kids a piece of fruit. Then show them an unwrapped Fruit Roll Up. Ask: “What’s the difference between this fruit and the Fruit Roll Up? Which one is the way God intended it to be? How will our lives be different from what God intended if we give in to peer pressure? What can we do to withstand peer pressure?”
Read aloud Romans 12:1-2 in a simple translation. As you give each child a Fruit Roll Up, say “Don’t get flattened by peer pressure.” Then close in prayer.
Julie Shaffer is a preschool director in Colorado. Heather Ward is a former elementary school teacher in Texas.