Thursday, January 31, 2013

Teaching Children to Follow the Right Crowd

by M. J. Joachim
Children need to be treated with respect and dignity, long before we worry about teaching them to pick good friends.  Children who learn to value life, both theirs and others, will almost always follow the right crowd.  And when they don’t, you will be the first to know. 

Here are a few things to remember, when respecting your child throughout their youth:
  • Build a strong, trusting relationship with your child.  Teach your child right from wrong, using words only when necessary. 
  • Be open to what your child wants to say to you.  Children love telling their parents what’s going on in their lives, so listen to them.
  • Try not to exaggerate your child’s successes.  It is great to applaud good work, just don’t overdo it.   Let your child feel a sense of accomplishment.  This is his success, not yours.  As a result, your child will choose friends with common goals and successes.
  • Remember to acknowledge the person behind the achievement.  When we encourage our children in their activities, it should never be about the activity alone. 
  • Try not to be judgmental of your child’s friends.  You’ve invested a lot of time and energy teaching your child decent values; avoid expressing your own prejudices, even when your child brings home a friend that is nothing like him. 

When children become teenagers, they will try to stand out and be different.  This happens because we’ve done our job as parents well.  The goal was to help them become independent, and now they are succeeding.  Embrace their struggle to fit into the world.  Respect their choices, even if you don’t agree with them.  Validate their right to think for themselves.  Remind them to use common sense.

Teenagers will test limits.  If they have a strong foundation based on right and wrong, they’ll be alright.  If they know someone will catch them when they fall, they won’t feel the need to fall so far.  If they feel accepted in only one place on earth, your home, they will challenge the stereotype of being a rebellious teenager.

Children who feel accepted throughout their lives are more apt to follow the right crowd.  If they know that they can be themselves, they will try to choose good friends.  If they are comfortable being children, by definition a period of learning in life, they will do their best to avoid trouble and those who get involved in it.  As they grow, they will become well rounded adults, capable of taking all that we have taught them into adulthood.  Then they will form the crowd that takes the world by storm.

That’s all for now. Until next time, I wish you well.

M. J. 

Photo credit:  U. S. Military Department of Defense, Public Domain
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