Do you know your child’s friends?
It has only been a few days since National Friendship Day, and the thought itself brings back memories to some. The word ‘friend’ could evoke fond memories of mischief, laughter and fun conversations; we gravitate towards people similar to ourselves and bestow this title to them. And when people seem closely bonded with the ties of friendship, they tend to impact each other in more ways than one.
It’s the same with your children. As they transition into adolescence, friends become an integral part of their lives. You’ll often see them spending more time with their friends or peers than anyone else. With the growing need for acceptance and a sense of belonging, it’s not a surprise that youngsters hold the opinions of their social group above everything else.
Does that mean you should be paying attention to who they befriend? Surely. It can teach you a lot about the values, perceptions & beliefs that surround your children. For instance, if they have friends who constantly rebel against authority, your children might indulge in the same behaviour. It can go both ways, wherein your child may be a stickler for rules if his or her friends do the same.
Tikitoro tips to get to know your child’s friends:
- Meet your child’s friends in school or community events and find out about the interests they have in common with your child.
- Invite your child’s friends for a play date or simply a round of snacks. Most kids love the food-friend connection and it often works out well.
- Let kids be kids, and don't go around playing detective all the time. Allow the kids some privacy in a “kid-friendly” space. You can pop by every once in a while to check in on them and also establish ground rules in advance like - no locked doors, no messing about with personal items etc. However, let them know that they’re welcome in your home.
- Get to know the parents or guardians of your child’s friends. It will allow you to work together to ensure that the kids are a positive influence to each other.
What do you do if you don’t like your child’s friends?
Chances are you’re not going to like all their friends. First, ask yourself why. If it’s over something silly then remind yourself that this isn’t about you. But if it’s over harmful behaviours like bullying, peer pressure etc, approach the matter with utmost care. Talk to your child first and decide on a way to resolve the problem - something that works for both parties involved without being hurt. In this case, it is always best to alert the parents or guardians to look into it and get involved. Don’t automatically assume that your child isn’t at fault without listening to both sides of the story.
Remember, communication is key. It is important to talk to your children and help them regulate their feelings. Researchers say that kids were more likely to develop strong self-regulation skills if they grew up with a parent who talked to them sympathetically & constructively about how to cope with difficult feelings. These children were also more likely to develop positive peer relationships as they got older.
Your child’s friendships are important…
- Even if you happen to be the busy bee of the family, make sure to set some time aside to get to know your children’s friends.
- Children also learn from their parents, which means it's important to model good behaviour. Pay close attention to how you talk to your friends and the way you treat them in front of your children.
- There is a fine line between being involved and being intrusive. Make sure you know where you stand.