The danger of losing control of their child’s behavior causes every parent anxiety when it comes to child rearing.
I recall situations where my children’s convictions against what we had taught them in favor of the teachers nearly drove me to change my children’s schools.
That tilt in influence from someone else is like an unanticipated stinging thorn piercing your foot just when you thought you had everything under control.
Even the smallest of influences, such as my thunderous voice and warnings to my children, have frequently caused me to lose my temper as I reassuringly dominate that of the teacher.
Parenting is only right and proper when parents or guardians exert control over their children’s behavior. But what if that influence is diluted by the influences of our children’s peers?
When his 13-year-old son became the focus of attention during a family gathering, a buddy got bewildered. As she wiggled and paddled around the compound, her cousins continued pointing at her cropped up disproportional buttocks.
A quick check of their daughter’s ‘behind’ discovered piles of hoarded toilet paper wrapped in a rag used to enhance her buttocks, which was a strange shift from what it looked like on exit from home.
“But many girls at school do that, even my best buddy does it,” the child said when caught in the act.
a little of YOU
While the physical changes in our children’s development and growth may capture our attention, we may overlook their mental or cognitive developments.
According to Lynda Nakalawa, a Child and Adolescent Psychologist at Akili Mental Health and Coaching Consultants Uganda Ltd, life changes dramatically between the ages of 10 and 20.
Around the age of 12, youngsters begin to question a lot of what their parents and instructors tell them. This can begin as early as eight years old in some cases, depending on exposure to media such as television and social media.
“At this age, youngsters are asking themselves, ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Where do I belong?'” Nakalawa explains.
There is a pattern to learning. According to Michael Jaggwe, executive director of Inspire Counselling Services Limited, a child’s mind is analogous to a ’empty jar’ theory (head) or a blank slate from birth to 12 years of age.
“What you write on it will shape your behavior for the rest of your life.” Two forces…parents/peers…are competing to write on this blank paper. He emphasizes that whomever writes more on this page will have a long-term impact on behavior.
According to Jaggwe, children are subjected to peer influence from birth, while it gets more evident throughout adolescence, a period of confusion and rebellion, but the child will often revert to what they were taught between the ages of 0 and 12.
According to Jaggwe, peer pressure is any influence from a child’s peers in the setting they contact with regularly. Parents and family members are also included.
It’s natural for children to begin distancing themselves from their parents as they grow into autonomous people, but Nakalawa observes that as this happens, they prefer to cling to their friends for identification.
“The judgments of their peers will become more relevant… “And what a youngster does is frequently what they believe their classmates would accept…thus peer pressure,” she argues.
Most people believe peer pressure is negative, but Jaggwe points out that some pressure can be beneficial.
Peer pressure can teach a youngster to harm others, but it can also teach them to be courteous.
Children, like adults, are continually exposed to both positive and negative forces.
“A child will be exposed to a particular behavior due to peer pressure. If a youngster adopts a certain undesirable behavior and is not punished for it, they will believe it is normal and will continue to do so. “The parent’s responsibility is to either encourage or discourage such conduct through positive or negative rewards, such as punishment or praise,” Jaggwe explained.
Some children may be able to withstand peer pressure in some areas, such as experimenting with sex and drugs, but not in others, such as using poor language.
Children who are not influenced by peer pressure have great self-esteem and, according to Nakalawa, “understand why they are different.”
Both Nakalawa and Jaggwe emphasize the need of parents being present and monitoring their children’s behavior at all times to reverse any negative peer pressure that may have been placed in their jars.
Measures to counter bad peer influences
- Parents must fulfil their responsibility to guide and correct to avoid creating a void for peer influence.
- Being good role models (children age 0-12) learn more through modeling -seeing and less talking.
- Reward good behaviour and punishing bad behaviour
- Building self-esteem in children
- Engage and talk to children about peer pressure
- Reducing exposure to television/social media
- Parental guidance to certain TV/Media programs
- Schedule Peer counseling sessions etc