Encourage Your Child’s Individuality
It is important to remember you and your child have different tastes and opinions. This also holds true for their choice of friends. Ask their opinion about people you meet, TV shows or books you both read.
Try not to grill your child about their new best friend. This does not mean you cannot ask open ended questions about the person, just realize that because you might not choose them as your friend it does not mean your child cannot make their own decisions about who they want to spend time with…as long as there is no evidence of harmful or dangerous behavior.
Encourage your child to stand up for themselves
Teaching your child to stand up for his/herself can start with allowing your child to have their own opinion and disagree with you in reasonable ways. This does not mean you should tolerate back talk or outright defiance but it does mean to support their efforts of self-expression.
Let her try to convince you why she should have you buy her that new pair of sneakers if her friends are her friends they will still play sports with her when she is wearing her “old” sneakers.
By supporting your child in defending her opinions you are helping them learn a skill they can use with her peers. Your child will be more confident about saying no to their friends next time they try to lead him/her towards misbehavior or towards values unacceptable to you.
Teach your child to be assertive and stand up for what they believe in, even if what they believes in is different from your beliefs (and it will be.) Teach your child simple statements to say to their friends when pressured, such as
“If you really are a friend you will back off.”
“Let’s agree to disagree.”
You might not feel your child is listening to you but rest assured, they hear you loud and clear. Your kids value what you have to say even if they pretend they do not. They are learning how to think for themselves and how to make their own decisions. If you raise them with good morals and values, you can be assured your child will make good choices.
Important Notice: The information presented above is provided for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for consulting a psychologist or other mental health professional to discuss your unique situation. If you would like to talk with me about it, you may call my office at 914-329-5355.