[Character] Dealing with negative peer influence in school

Today, I’m going to touch on helping my child deal with negative peer influence in school.

There’s a Chinese saying “近朱者赤 近墨者黑”, which means one takes the behaviour of one’s company (or friends).

My eldest, Vee, was homeschooled until 5.5 years old. Before that, he mainly interacted with adults, his siblings, cousins and family friends.

After he joined kindergarten, I noticed new behaviours such as jumping from stairs and spouting vulgar phrases. He’s a very audio-verbal person who’d keep repeating these “amusing” phrases for months, eventually influencing the younger siblings as well.

So instead of one kid saying things like WTF, I ended up with THREE.

This morning, 2yo El just said it during breakfast again! (I diffused it by suggesting he sings his favourite song instead.)

Since I chat with Vee daily, I soon found out there was a boy who started these behaviour during K2.

Vee enjoys playing with “fun” people, and so enjoyed his company and picked up such negative behaviour too.

From then on, I realised the true importance of helping him choose his company of friends, if he isn’t wise enough to choose good ones.

Now in P1, he hangs out in school until I pick him up. Twice, I noticed him playing with an older boy who’s a bit “wild”.

At home today, I reminded him the importance of choosing better-behaved friends because they can influence his behaviour, like what happened in the past year.

Being a highly-sensitive child, he rolled his eyes way off to the side, in an upset manner. Obviously, he prefers full autonomy on choosing whatever playmates he likes.

Freedom of choice within a boundary

Once again, I’m reminded of Dr. Montessori’s teachings: freedom of choice within a boundary. If the child blatantly crosses the boundary (in this case, spouting vulgarities and being rude), then his freedom of choice would have to be limited.

Over dinner, I brought up the topic gently again, while acknowledging his emotions. I gave him examples of well-behaved classmates. He agreed with my points.

A person’s character is much more important than his intellect. History has shown that an intelligent yet unethical person can do great harm. While my children are young, I’d do my best to guide them towards the right company.

近朱者赤 近墨者黑

~ MieVee

P.S. Read more about Preschool Stress: The Dark Side of Preschool at http://www.parentingscience.com/preschool-stress.html

P.P.S. Check out my workshops here

Photo credit: StockSnap.io

4 thoughts on “[Character] Dealing with negative peer influence in school”

  1. MieVee ur tip has always helped me a lot.I ‘m going through the same problem.but was not getting a solution to my problem. My son he is just 3yr.I guess not in condition to understand what is write and what is wrong.
    He started school this yr and using few object able word.
    Not able to know how to make him understand that he should not speak like this.
    If u could suggest me something.

    1. mievee @ mummyshomeschool.com

      Hi Arti, if the child picked up the words from school, then it’d be the teacher’s duty to teach the child who started it. If the teacher is unable to effectively teach the child, then others would blindly follow. What parents do at home would barely help.

      For my own case, I’d just keep reminding the child to “clean his speech”. For a young child, offer him a more interesting phrase to keep repeating.

      May also highlight to the teacher to see what actions would be taken to stop the spread of such language use.

      If then school doesn’t have effective discipline measures, then I’d consider changing school or just homeschool until the child is older.

      All the best!

  2. I totally agree to the Chinese saying:近朱者赤 近墨者黑。However, I’m not that type of 孟母三迁 mother. I personally feel that over protecting our children will bring some adverse effect afterall parent cannot always by their side. I won’t isolate my children at home from others. What I will do is to guide them along the way, tell them how to choose and why they have to be careful in choosing friends. I will constantly remind and educate them. In addition, I will find some related videos to share with them, let them watch and explain why I not allow them to mix with “bad” friend. Giving them some time to change as we all learn from mistake. When they are mature, they will understand. If they were deprived of this learning skill from young it will be harder for us to teach them when they are in teenage.

    1. mievee @ mummyshomeschool.com

      Very well said, Wei Ling! Yes, children need to be educated, make their own choices and learn from their mistakes.

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