“Peer influence is remarkably powerful all through our lives. But it’s never more impactful than in childhood, when values have yet to take root,” says Betsy Brown Braun, a child development and behavior specialist. With that in mind, let’s look at how parents can respond to 3 behaviors they do not want to see their child imitate.
1. Talking back.
This is one that needs to be nipped in the bud. Even if you know where your child had seen this behavior it isn’t necessary to make that point. Simply explain that even if it is allowed in someone else’s home, it will not be tolerated in YOUR home. If you unemotionally tackle this one as soon as it arises, the behavior has the potential to disappear as quickly as it appeared.
2. Being a daredevil.
With this one you want to encourage your child to think long-term (at least a long-ish-term). Teach your child to ask the question: What are the possible consequences of imitating the daredevil action? Additionally, now is the time to remind your child he doesn’t have to do everything his peers do – especially if it registers in his intellect as unsafe! Encourage him to stand-alone whenever he thinks the behavior is unwise. When he makes that good choice, be sure to applaud him.
3. The bully or mean kid.
These are the kids who spread ugly rumors and generally display aggressive behavior. One key is to help your child develop empathy for the victim. Simply asking him the question “How do you think that other child feels?” can help him get perspective. Another key is to encourage your child to try to understand why the mean child acts the way he or she does. Another helpful question – “Why do you think he or she is acting this way?” When your child thinks through these questions the hope is his level of caring will increase and he will stand up for the underdog and extend kindness.