One of the foundations for success in life is the quality of the relationships we form. Every relationship has a tendency to move us in one direction or another, and kids are no exception. The people in your child’s life are either pushing them ahead or holding them back.
Think for a minute about the people who have your child’s attention in a typical week. Other than yourself and your spouse, who are the top few individuals who spend the most time with your child? I’m talking classmates, neighbors, teachers—anyone your child sees a lot. Each one of those people is having an influence today on who your son or daughter will become tomorrow.
RELATIONSHIPS THAT CAN HOLD YOUR CHILD BACK
First, let’s talk about negative relationships. The reality is there may be some people in your child’s life who are hindering them more than helping them. Here are a few examples of when a relationship is doing more harm than good:
- When peers have a bad impact on your child’s reputation.Even at a young age, kids are known by the groups they run with. Say your son has a friend over from school and you hear that friend speaking rudely or disrespectfully. You know that kind of attitude is going to rub off. Don’t let another child’s negative behavior send your own child in the wrong direction. Talk with your child honestly about the need to choose friends wisely.
- When dating is a distraction. Now, I know that people have different opinions about when it’s time to start dating. Leaving that aside, it’s never too early to talk with your child about priorities and where dating fits. For young people of any age, their primary goals should be to focus on doing well in school and forming solid friendships. Jumping into a dating relationship too soon can distract a young person from those goals. If your child is still working to master basic study skills or falling short with family responsibilities, dating is probably a bad idea.
RELATIONSHIPS THAT DRIVE YOUR CHILD FORWARD
Now I know those examples might sound discouraging. But listen up. There are so many ways you as a parent can help your kids build positive relationships—and not just with their peers! Here are a few:
- Open your home. Obviously, kids relate most easily with others their own age. That might be frustrating to parents, but you and I were exactly the same way! As they get older, your kids will probably want to hang out with their friends more and more. Use that to your advantage. Let them know that their friends are welcome to hang out at your home. You’ll not only learn more about what your child’s friends are like—and what kind of impact they’re having on your child—but you’ll also be able to encourage positive activities and help healthy friendships continue to grow.
- Look for mentors. Pairing your child with the right guides and mentors can help set them up for future success. Begin with a simple conversation with your child about goals. Now they don’t have to create a master plan of everything they ever want to do. Just help them make a list of two or three goals in different areas of life, like learning a specific skill or saving a certain amount of money for college. With those goals in mind, think of people you know who’d be good mentors to help your child accomplish them. For example, if your child wants to learn about computer programming, look into job-shadowing opportunities with a friend or coworker who is in that field.
Don’t let the wrong relationships stagnate in your child’s life. There are proactive steps you can take today to help them identify which relationships might be holding them back and which ones are moving them toward success!