These days our kids are exposed to more external influences than ever before.
When most of us were kids, the worst influences in our lives were a few rough types at school and the music videos RAGE played on a Sunday morning.
However, technology advances mean today’s kids are bombarded with more influential imagery, language and attitude than ever before. There’s Instagram, YouTube, TV, movies, music, to name just a few. Even if they aren’t exposed directly to negative influences it is likely they are picking up stuff from their friends who are.
I’m pretty vigilant about what my kids are exposed to but some of the things that come out of my four year old’s mouth blow me away. Some of the things that come out of my nine and eleven year old’s mouths downright shock me.
So how do you deal with negative influences on such a multi-faceted level?
Saying “you aren’t allowed to play with Tommy anymore” like parents of yore did is no longer a viable solution to eradicating bad influences. Not that it was a very good parenting strategy to begin with – we all know what kids do when they are told they can’t do something!!
Here are a few things you can do to help combat negative influences on our children:
Minimise exposure and set boundaries. Whether this means cutting back on screen time, imposing tighter parental controls or limiting time spent unsupervised with particular friends. Let your child know what is acceptable behaviour for your household and set consequences for undesirable behaviour.
Instil good values. We can’t stop our kids from being exposed to negative influences completely. We would have to put them in solitary confinement! However, we can do our best to teach our children right from wrong, teach them kindness, manners and how to be a good person.
Empower them to say “no”or to walk away when things get uncomfortable. Helping our children find and listen to their inner voice when things go too far is a huge gift to give them. Not being a follower for fear of exclusion or ridicule shows great strength of character. This ability will stand them in good stead later in life, especially when faced with peer pressure during their teens.
Offer unconditional love. We don’t always like what our children do but it is important to let them know we love them no matter what. This will help them feel secure in themselves and less likely to succumb to negative influences.
Try to withhold judgement. Despite the fact your child might be doing things that seem odd or silly to you, it may be the latest trend or fad. Most kids just want to feel included. Try not to shame them for trying to fit in.
Guiding our children to make good choices and overcome negative influences is yet another challenging part of parenting. However, with love, support and strong positive influences, your child should be able to learn and grow from the experience.