As children grow up, they want to experience things on their own, they tend to take a step away from their families and parents and lean on their peers. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. If children are friends with encouraging and positive peers, this transition from family to friends is easier for parents. However, if the child’s peers are up to negative behaviour and considered the “wrong crowd”, parents have worries about the welfare and well-being and success of their child and their future. Parents are scared of what their children may do when succumbed to the pressures of their peers. (Brown, Mounts, Lamborn, & Steinberg, 1993)
There are potential warning signs in which parents can tell if their child is hanging out with the “wrong crowd.” There are several aspects in which you can tell your child is being negatively influenced: on a social level, academic and school level and physical appearance. (Warning Signs Your Teen is in a Negative Peer Group, 2011) Firstly on a social level, children may stop hanging out with normal friends and begin into fraternize with peers that are unfamiliar to parents. Children may also begin to be withdrawn from once ordinary family life, and spend a lot of time alone in their room. Secondly, on a school level, parents may be contacted by their child’s teacher, due to a difference in their child’s classroom behaviour, academic school performance, and possible change in peer groups. Thirdly, a big indicator of when a child is hanging with the “wrong crowd” is physical appearance. Parents may notice their child is not only acting differently – such as rude language or unordinary behaviour – but also looking different. Children may change clothing, hair, makeup and many other areas of their physical appearance to be accepted into their new peer group. (Warning Signs Your Teen is in a Negative Peer Group, 2011)
Now that we have discussed the warning signs of a child potentially hanging out with negative peer groups, we will now go over ways how to keep your children away from these negative influencers. Although, it may seem easier to parents to snoop around their child’s room or personal journal about any experiences with a new peer group – that is anything but the right choice for parents to make. Parents should first off, talk to their children, make sure that they know that they are there for them in any circumstances. Take your child on a dinner date, or to get ice cream and just talk to them. Don’t bluntly open with, “So have you been doing anything you know you shouldn’t, with your new friends?” Don’t open with that at all. Ask about how school is going, the good the bad. Ask if they are looking forward to anything with in the next few weeks. Talk about familiar friends and how their lives are going. Ask if they are making any friends. The key here is to get information subtly from your child, to not scare off your child closer to the negative influencers. If possible, encourage your child to bring new friends over to your family house for dinner or just to hangout. Even if your child is hanging out with these negative influences, it is better it be under your supervision, then out somewhere else. (Fitzgerald, 2013) If your child has become an entirely different person, complete with a 360 in personality and behaviour; it is important to establish ground rules for your child. Make sure you set specific rules to encourage positive behaviour or discourage any unwanted, negative behaviour. (Fitzgerald, 2013) It is important for parents to monitor their children’s behaviour, at home, extra curricular activities – for school, as the teacher to update you on your child and their behaviours. Above all, let your child know that you love them and trust them and you believe they will make the best decisions in difficult circumstances.
It is crucial that once parents see the potential warning signs of their child being put under negative influences; that they take the necessary steps to protect and encourage their child, so that they make the right decision when it comes to peer groups.
Brown, B. B., Mounts, N., Lamborn, S. D., & Steinberg, L. (1993). Parenting practices and peer group affiliation in adolescence. Child Development, 64(2), 467-482. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/618318773?accountid=14391
Fitzgerald, C. (2013, January 12). How to Lure Your Teenagers Away From the Wrong Crowd. Retrieved December 3, 2014, from http://www.livestrong.com/article/560077-how-to-lure-your-teenagers-away-from-the-wrong-crowd/
Warning Signs Your Teen Is in a Negative Peer Group. (2011). Retrieved December 4, 2014, from http://aspeneducation.crchealth.com/articles/article-peer-groups/