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.
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
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