6 Bad Habits Your Child Can Pick Up From Friends

Friends are important for your child to stay happy and healthy. But sometimes, they can have an undesirable influence too. Here are six bad habits your child can pick up from friends.

By Ashwin Lobo

6 Bad Habits Your Child Can Pick Up From Friends
"In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge." — Aristotle

The above quote by Greek philosopher Aristotle tells us how important friends are to us. For a little one, making friends can be child's play, literally. What's more, friends and friendships play a crucial role in a child's life.

Healthy friendships have a very positive effect on children. Friends promote the development of social and emotional skills, and foster a sense of belonging. They help a child learn how to empathise, solve problems, connect with others, and much more.

However, sometimes, friends can be a bad influence as well. And, when your child is still learning values and morals, this can have an extremely undesirable effect. Watch out for these six bad habits that your child can pick up from his friends.

1. Cursing: As children get older, they are exposed to strong language. When we hear our children cursing for the first time, it takes us by surprise and we worry about how or where they learned such words. Children can pick up bad words from many sources, with friends being one of them.

  • What you should do: Although it is shocking to hear your little one swear, getting angry and admonishing him will not make him change. So, instead of overreacting or confronting your child, tell him that cursing is a bad habit, is hurtful and not permitted in your home. Teach him acceptable ways of expressing himself and set consequences for cursing, like suspending privileges. Also, set a good example by never cursing yourself.

2. Lying: Children can lie for a number of reasons, such as to enhance self-esteem, gain approval, draw attention to themselves, and avoid consequences. But irrespective of why a child is lying, it is important as parents to try and nip the habit in the bud.

  • What you should do: When you catch your child lying, try to find out what prompts her to do so. Explain that lying doesn't solve problems but in fact, makes matters worse. Teach her the importance of being honest and telling the truth. Also, fix consequences for lying, such as getting her to write an apology. Implement the consequences the next time your child tells a lie.

3. Talking back: As children grow up, they learn to talk back. They may do so for several reasons such as to voice their annoyance, exert their independence and show defiance. Children can pick up the habit of talking back by watching those around them, including their friends.

  • What you should do: Although it is difficult to stay calm when your child talks back, try to keep your composure and speak to him without raising your voice. Tell him that such behaviour hurts you and you expect him to be respectful to you and to others. One of the consequences you can impose on your child for talking back is to walk away. Tell him you will be willing to have a conversation when he learns to be respectful. Also, analyse why your child may be talking back to you and try to remove the triggers.

4. Copying from classmates: Copying a few assignments or a portion of homework may look like harmless behaviour. But, this may soon turn into a habit. A study by researchers has shown that copying greatly decreases academic performance and increases the failure rate of students. When caught copying, a child can also be subjected to disciplinary action.

  • What you should do: Speak to your child about the importance of integrity. Explain to her that hard work leads to positive outcomes and that the success thus achieved, will fill her with pride. Make your child aware of the consequences of copying such as receiving adverse remarks or being awarded poor grades.

5. Materialism: Children are an important consumer segment today. More and more goods and services are being produced for them. If your child has friends who are preoccupied with branded toys, clothes and accessories, then he could also end up becoming materialistic in his outlook.

  • What you should do: It is difficult for children to resist materialism, especially when they see their friends flaunting the latest toys or gadgets. Make your child understand the difference between needs and wants. Involve him in discussions about money so he too realises how income and expenses can affect the family. At the same time, limit your child's exposure to advertising. Show him that he can derive happiness from pursuing a hobby or doing something else like volunteering. More important, set an example by being a non-materialistic person.

6. Bullying: Instances of bullying by children are on the rise, and an increasing number of cases are being reported today. Your child may also turn into a bully if he is always with friends who tend to tease or torment other children.

  • What you should do: It can extremely upsetting to find that your child is involved in bullying. Speak to your child to understand why she is indulging in such behaviour. Is it because of peer pressure, the desire to control other children, to project a strong image or something else? Teach her to manage her anger, improve her social skills, and encourage her to treat others with respect and kindness.

As a parent, while you give your child the freedom to mingle with other children, it is also important that you keep a tab on what he and his friends are doing. Taking an active interest in your child's life can help you identify any unacceptable behaviour your child may pick up and curb it at the earliest.

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