|Main Activity:Eating Catfood
Ask the class for a volunteer for the next activity and pick your young person who you have previously prepared.
You should be offering the tin of catfood and saying things like:
“Come on everyone else has, you can’t be in our gang unless you do, you’re such a wimp, it’s not going to hurt you, it’s good enough for cats so it’s fine for us,” etc etc. Show the class the catfood and show yourself how fine it is to eat ‘catfood’ (at which point the class may erupt!) you can pretend to like it but still make it seem like it is genuine catfood. The young person being pressured should try and withhold but eventually give in and try the catfood. It’s particularly effective for the next stages of the lesson if they act like it is horrible.
Ask what techniques you were using to pressure the young person into eating the catfood?
Suggestions could include:
· Saying everyone was doing it?- (was that true?)
· Saying they couldn’t be in their gang- excluding them if they didn’t join in
· Saying hurtful personal comments
· Saying it wouldn’t hurt to try it (is that true?).
Ask the class why did the young person give in to the peer pressure?
Suggestions could include
· Wanted to be liked
· Wanted them to stop going on at him
· Wanted to be in their gang
· Believed teacher that it wouldn’t hurt.
Now ask for a volunteer in the class to show how to say no to the teacher. (choose quite a confident assertive individual who will be able to cope!) Role play the pressure situation again and allow the new actor to say no, this time The teacher can really up the pressure- including showing how easy it is to “eat the catfood”. “Look you are SUCH a wimp- look its soooo easy, what a baby, I dare have a spoonful, in fact I’ll have two etc. (eat the “catfood” in front of the new volunteer. Perhaps even persuade the first young person to have some again- to increase the pressure further “And look my friend is doing it too- so why can’t you- both “friends” to laugh and jeer at the other young person while eating the “catfood”.
(Again if the class hasn’t sussed this isn’t really catfood yet there maybe be some strong reactions!).
Further role play ideas
- You can also experiment with offering the spoon to the young person first and seeing how that affects the pressure situation (once they have the spoon in their hand (the tool to eat the catfood) it becomes much harder to say no.
- You can also ask someone to film it on a mobile or talk about how this is going to make us go viral and how that might affect the pressure situation.
- You can ask for more volunteers to try and catfood. Interestingly lots of young people will volunteer not knowing it genuinely isn’t catfood (having seen the teacher and a peer try it). Unpick with the class what motivations are going on behind volunteering to take part (whilst being mindful of the class dynamic and not putting a young person in any uncomfortable personal position).
Ask the class why they are being pressured into eating ‘catfood’?
Suggestions could include:
– Because it’s genuinely good and they want to share how nice it is?!
– Because they are bullying
– Because they want to have power over them?
– Because they want that person to be like them?
– Because they want them to be in the gang?
– Because they know eating catfood is wrong but they want other people to join them so they won’t be the only ones who get into trouble.
– Because they are trying dares/taking risks/hazing for group membership.
– Because they are trying to do something stupid for popularity (going viral)
Ask the class what might the genuine consequences of giving into peer pressure (of eating catfood) might be? (including physical and emotional consequences)
- Tummy ache/being sick/allergies
- Parents get cross
- Feeling sad that they gave into pressure
- Not feeling in control.
Explain to the class about “passive, aggressive and assertive responses” and role play each of these for the situation. Ask the children to role play each of these responses and discuss in pairs how it felt.
Ask the class what techniques the new role player was employing to avoid having to eat the catfood.
– eg. repetition NO NO NO, Body language- strong defensive stance, Giving good reasons “no I might be allergic, “I ate earlier” etc.
Analyse each of these responses in more detail- for example young people will often giggle or give shy body language when saying no to the catfood. Point out by smiling or weaker body language they might be conveying that they are not sure of their NO so the pressurer knows they might win them over if they keep trying. (N.B. It is important to be clear here about consent and victim blaming- an absence of No is not a yes, and if something happens to someone without their consent that is never okay and never the victims fault for not saying NO well enough- this lesson is simply an opportunity for us to practice our NO!’s in a safe space. Signpost local sources of support if necessary.)
Explain that humans are often not very good at saying no. This partly comes from our parents not letting us say no to bedtimes, or brushing our teeth, so saying no as a teenager or adult can be tricky for us as we like to please people. So it is important we practice saying NO to things we don’t want and that we convey that clearly.
Explain there are three parts to saying No. Firstly a loud clear NO! Secondly a stern facial expression- no smiling or laughing. Thirdly strong confident body language- perhaps even with a hand up. NO! Encourage the class to role play saying No and talk about how that felt.
Discuss situations where it can be hard to say no.
Ask the class to come up with a list of “Strategies for saying no to peer pressure” Create a whole class poster with this information on.