Combat What You Can’t Control By Teaching Your Child This Important Skill

As parents, one of our main jobs is to instill our values in our children and help them use those values to make good decisions as they get older.

We are all constantly bombarded with outside influences, many of which contradict our values, and we cannot always control what our children are exposed to.

But there is surprising evidence on how this struggle can affect our kids and what it can teach them.

Today’s conservative families are facing a crisis as our traditional values are under constant assault by the left.

Mainstream media, entertainment in all forms, and the progressive policies of businesses where we make our everyday purchases are all adopting the propaganda that erodes our values and destroys our families.

And our neighbors, peers, our kids’ teachers, and even friends and family members may be succumbing to the agenda of the left and disagree with our values and the way we choose to raise our children.

So how can parents use the negative influences that surround our children every day to reinforce, rather than destroy, our traditional values?

Well, to begin with, there is some good news.  Research has found that when kids learn the skills to deal with negative influences early on, there may actually be some benefits.

Dr. Fiona Martin, a child psychologist, tells ChildMags:

“Similar in the way that being exposed to bacteria can help bolster the immune system, having your children exposed to bad behavior or influences can actually strengthen their character and help them learn to make smarter choices.  The message isn’t how to protect them from bad influences, but how to guide them through.”

Early examples include our little ones seeing negative behavior on the playground, in preschool, or on playdates.  Other children may hit or push another child or take a toy.

When parents view this behavior, they can pull their child aside and explain to them that just because one child behaves in this manner, it is not acceptable in your family.  You can discuss the feelings that may have made the other child behave in a negative way and offer simple alternatives to your child.

As kids get older and are exposed to negative messages in the media or see something inappropriate, a discussion of what is and is not allowed in your home and the reasons why can help teach them that there are things that we are exposed to that may be out of our control, but that we can hold fast to our values in order to make good choices.

And once kids have a strong foundation, sometimes being exposed to negative influences can strengthen their resolve as they will start to really understand the reasons behind our rules.

Older kids who begin to be exposed to peer pressure to engage in risky or inappropriate behaviors are better equipped to do the right thing if parents have kept an open and honest dialogue with them and reinforced values from the start.

From the early years, kids should be taught what behaviors are non-negotiable and what parents’ expectations are in different situations.

And negative influences may not only come from their peers or the media.

What happens when a close friend or even family member completely disagrees with your values or tries to encourage your child to participate in something they know you would not approve of?  (This can be something as simple as watching an “off limits” TV show because Grandma says it’s ok.)

If you know ahead of time that your child will be spending time in an unavoidable environment that may conflict with your family values (like Thanksgiving dinner with your liberal relatives), lay out some ground rules with the adults ahead of time by letting them know that you would appreciate it if they respect your wishes, even if they may not agree.

This is a good message for the kids, as well, because they are eventually going to be in situations where they disagree with someone else’s views but want to maintain the relationship.

We are not always going to see eye-to-eye with friends, family, or coworkers and kids can learn to be diplomatic now while still preserving their values and thinking for themselves.

In addition, parents must model this behavior, even to the youngest children.  It does us no good to teach our children not to use inappropriate language and then do it ourselves, or watch that television show they are not allowed to see.

“Do as I say, not as I do” is not a good message for our children and will certainly not encourage them to follow our rules if we cannot follow them ourselves.

Stay connected with your kids by asking them about any problems they may be having – peer pressure, disagreements with peers, differences in opinion with teachers or other adults.

Offer encouragement to stand strong and do the right thing.  Praise them when you see them resist peer pressure or when they make a tough choice that reinforces your rules and values.

Real Simple reported:

Timothy Verduin, Ph.D., a clinical assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine [says], “Think about the long view, that you’re training them to handle less-than-ideal people and solve their own problems.”

We cannot avoid negative influences, especially in this day and age.  And completely sheltering our children can backfire when they are faced with real-life situations when they go off to college, in the workplace, or even when their views conflict with those of their close friends.

Kids will stray sometimes – it’s a part of growing up.  They will test our limits and they may rebel against our rules at one time or another.

But by teaching them the skills to handle influences that conflict with our values and use them to make good decisions, they will be equipped to advocate for their beliefs and for their safety and well-being.

Have you experienced a situation where your child was exposed to negative influences outside the home and made the decision to stand strong with the values you taught them?  Leave us your thoughts.




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