Thursday, July 21, 2011

How do you feel about the 5 people closest to your child?

At one point in our lives, we are all susceptible to influences from other people. Kids with ADHD are often more easily influenced by others, which can be very frustrating.

The late Jim Rohn said that each of us is the sum of the five people closest to us.

During the early years of a child's life the foundation is laid for the rest of their lives. During this time, the child's personality is formed and his or her outlook on life is established.

Think about the influences of the five people your child spends the most time with. Parents, siblings, grandparents, teachers and friends are all part of most children's circle of influence. Sometimes, those people don't all contribute positively to the child's personality and behavior.

This is one of the reasons why many parents decide to home educate their children. I remember when my kids   went to pre-school years ago. When we enrolled them, the school was great, however, the management took over and new teachers were introduced. My children's new teacher was unqualified and English was not her first language. Before long, my daughter started speaking in a peculiar accent and she used incorrect grammar and non-English words. She was shocked when we told her those words were not English.

About 6 months later,  my son's arm was broken by other kids while he was sleeping (during nap time). The teachers never bothered to phone us and the broken arm was only discovered when we collected the kids late in the afternoon. At that point, the teachers were very concerned about fixing the problem, which should have been prevented to start with. We took the kids out of the school then and started homeschooling.

It took a long time to get the kids to speak proper English and changing some of the mannerisms they developed that were frowned upon by most family and friends. Let me tell you, these things sneak up on you before you know it.

Think about the characteristics that you would like your child to develop:  trustworthiness, self-reliance, self-respect, a positive outlook on life, resilience, solution mindedness, optimism, etc.

Now think about the characteristics of their friends. Do you really think that whiney little girl doesn't have an influence on your daughter? Just wait until she doesn't get her way. Does the bully teach your son to play rough and not to be a wimp? Observe your son around younger kids.

What about the aunt with the colorful love life? I bet your daughter adores visiting her and looking at all her coquettish clothing - even playing dress up.

I know I am being hard and I know the home schooling critics will have a field day about my "controlling" my kids. The truth is that kids are easily influenced and we should be wary about who they spend a lot of time with. I am not saying they should necessarily be kept away from people who are not the best of influences, but their time with them should be limited.

My kids have friends that are brats (screaming and throwing tantrums when they don't get their way), bullies (even bullying my kids) and raised in a very different way to my kids, in terms of age appropriate behavior, but they are managing themselves well for the most part.

When a certain behavior rears its head, we will quickly determine the cause and then replace that influence with a better role model. After a day or two during which they had limited interaction with the "wrong" influence, we will ask them how they feel about the situation and they will most often say that they prefer spending more time with someone with a better influence.

The reason is that it feels good when a person has a good influence on you - just think about it!

Of course children prefer spending time with someone brings out the best in them!
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