Peer pressure and friends – it’s a combination that can be good or bad. I remember my best friend from those elementary grade years. We played together, sat by each other at school, rode the school bus, and had a great time at sleepovers. If one of us wanted to do something, so did the other. Fortunately we both grew up in families with similar values. Our parents knew each other and saw that us kids had fun – but within their guidance and supervision.
Parents, get to know your kids’ friends. Make your house the inviting place for everyone to hang out. Then be visible and interact with the kids. Note how your own child responds to others. Is he a leader or is she a follower? Do the kids seems to get along well or are there troublemakers? Talk to the other kids’ parents whenever you get a chance.
You can gently steer your child to friends you see as positive influences. Arrange play dates or have the whole family over for a BBQ. Enroll your child in clubs or activities with children who you think could be good friends. As children grow, parents have less and less influence over this part of their child’s life. Be cautious about pushing too hard on getting rid of friends you think are a bad influence. Kids will often rebel and do just the opposite of what you want.
That good friend from my early years – well, as we entered high school, our interests changed and so did our friendship. I found new friends and new experiences. Happily these friends never pressured me into doing anything I didn’t want to.
So parents, keep tabs on your kids’ friends. Know what is going on. It’s a key piece of peer pressure.