‘We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them in mutual weirdness and call it ‘friendship’’ This quote from Dr Seuss beautifully illustrates our inherent need to connect with others who make us feel valued and accepted. Cindy Glass, Director and Co-founder of Step Up Education Centres says ‘The need for human connection sees many young people getting involved in friendships which are not good for them. The ‘wrong crowd’ friendships are those relationships which do not uphold positive behavioural choices and who are consistently seeking ways in which to harm others or engage in self-destructive activities.’
Cindy goes on add ‘All negative behaviours stem from fears rooted in negative self-belief. We cannot control the behavioural choices of others but we can do something to assist our children in making better friendship choices.’
Consider these helpful hints:
1. BE the person you wish to see in your child. Teach your child about positive friendship choices by having positive friendships in your life. Let go of toxic relationships-it takes courage but you will give your child the courage to do the same.
2. Foster communication channels with your child which are based on trust and non-judgemental support and love. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your imperfect child could feel safe enough to speak of his imperfectness to his imperfect parent, knowing that, together, you will find positive solutions?
3. Help your child develop a strong sense of self-value. This will give him the courage to stand firm in his convictions and be able to say ‘no’ to negative peer pressure. He will not have anything that needs proving because he will know who he is!
4. Teach your child about consequences. All choices have consequences and nobody can escape this!
5. Teach your child to honour and respect himself just as you honour and respect yourself. In this way, your child will not have a need to become involved in destructive relationships.
6. Find ways for your child to enjoy activities beyond the school environment. Hiking, dancing, art, music and so many other activities will keep your child from becoming bored and tempted into negative groups and it has the added benefit of learning new skills and developing confidence!
7. Dream big! Remind your child of the possibilities that lie ahead for him/her! Having something to work towards is a wonderful way to stay out of trouble despite negative peer pressures!
Cindy summarises by saying ‘You cannot force a change in friendships but you can help your child develop a better sense of self. Children who respect, honour and appreciates who they are, are less likely to seek connection with those who do not mirror their values.’