As a parent, one of things you pay close attention to is what your child does. When you take interest in what they are up to, you are able to decode what they are doing and this gives you a chance to guide them accordingly.
More often than not, you will find that when children stray they are probably keeping bad company, you either didn’t take interest in finding more about these friendships or warned them against.
Here are some of the common signs that your child could be getting negatively influenced by bad company they are keeping:
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Keeping things from you
If you find out that your children have been hiding things from you, even if it is something inconsequential, you need to have your radar up, as that could be a sign that they are getting into suspicious behavior.
At the very least, they could be creating new secrecy habits, but don’t take your chances and let it slide. You could only be helping them nurture and get comfortable with bad behaviour. When children start to keep secrets, it could mean that they have found new confidants, which could be leading them on the wrong path.
They are withdrawn
You can’t expect all your children to be social butterflies. However, when you notice signs of withdrawal that is more than usual then that could be a cause for concern.
When an outgoing child suddenly becomes quieter, they could be trying to adjust to a new personality or worse they could be trying to keep things in so that they don’t end up blubbering and exposing some newly acquired negative behaviour.
If they are not depressed or suffering from lack of confidence, then it is up to you as a parent to find out what your child is up to that is causing the change. Are they struggling to keep up with their new friends or are they being pushed to do things they don’t want?
Steep drop in school performance
Dropping grades is always a huge telltale sign that something somewhere is wrong with your child. Other than laziness and need for attention, getting into the wrong company can also impact your child’s learning negatively. For instance, they will now get more concerned with the unnecessary things due to peer pressure rather than putting more effort on their studies.
Some parents might be quick to punish lowering performance. However, the best move would be to find out what exactly is going on with the child. If possible, find out if they are having any new friends and try and evaluate the character of these friends.
The importance of finding out more is that you will be able to address the real issue without implementing misplaced rules and punishments.
Changes in dressing style
Trying and experimenting with new looks is okay and normal, but sudden changes in the manner your child dresses that doesn’t resonate well with you could mean more than just experimenting.
Well, it could be a sign of insecurity, but when they start considering more suggestive outfits, they could be yielding to influence towards sexual activity or caving to peer pressure. For instance, when they are suddenly into baggier clothes, they could be hiding things about their bodies.
As a parent, you need to get to the root cause of the ‘problem.’ You need to ask them questions and offer yourself as a safe place they can always retreat to as they navigate their lives.
First off, you need to recognise that your children will and may be undergoing puberty. Puberty brings with it a number of personality changes. Nonetheless, you need to keep a keen eye on these changes.
In most cases, there is always some negative change driving the sharp changes in personality. While it could be they are engaging in things they know you will not approve, it could also mean anything else including: being bullied in school, depression or just desperate for your attention.
All in all, you need to ask them questions focusing on their changes and find out what exactly is going on with them. Remember to be as encouraging and accommodating as much as you can so that they feel free to open up to you and feel comfortable seeking your help whenever.
-This article was first published in Eve Woman (evewoman.co.ke)