Everyone is shaped, to some degree, by the people around them. This is especially true with teens. Young people look to their peers to learn how to act, how to dress and how to speak, often questioning or even rejecting the values and habits modeled by their parents.
Parents are often concerned about kids who might be a bad influence on their teen. But it’s equally important to provide teens with opportunities to spend time with positive influences.
There are many organized groups that help bring young people together for events and regular meetings. Church youth groups are a great place to meet other teens with similar values, priorities and upbringing. Not only do teens have time to worship together, but it provides a forum for challenging questions about faith, growing up and relationships. Teens benefit not only from companionship with other like-minded young people; they also find positive adult role models in the youth ministry team and congregation volunteers.
Other opportunities can be found by exploring a teen’s unique talents and interests through scouting troops, athletic teams, dance classes or organized volunteer programs, to name a few. Through these groups, teens can connect with others who enjoy the same activities and share their passions. In addition to providing positive peer modeling, the time commitment required to participate in sports, fine arts and service groups also helps keep teens out of trouble.
If your teen doesn’t enjoy mingling with new people or participating in structured group activities, there are still ways to introduce a positive influence. Mentoring is one way to help your teen connect with others on a one-on-one basis. In a mentoring program, teens develop a long-term relationship with an adult who provides guidance, encouragement and companionship. Perhaps the best-known agency providing mentor pairing is Big Brothers, Big Sisters, but mentors can also be found through church, the school system or even through friends and family.
However, sometimes the solution is much simpler. Know your teen’s friends, and spend time with them whenever possible. Listen to what they say, and pay attention to how they act or dress around your child. Encourage your teen to spend time with the friends who are well-behaved, use good manners and you know are engaged in their own activities. If your teen has friends who you feel aren’t a positive influence in her life, gently suggest other options and point them toward them.
It is also essential for parents to surround themselves with positive, supportive people – parenting is a challenging task! Parents begin to question their decisions, thinking they are being too hard or too soft on their child. Surround yourself with other healthy parents who can help keep you on the right track.
Everyone can benefit from a positive environment and time with people who bring out the best in us. To learn how Compass Rose Academy can provide a new network of positive people for your teen, contact us today.