Tag Archives: social skills

Absent Parents

It used to be that if you mentioned an “absent parent,” it meant a parent who wasn’t—for whatever reason—physically present with his or her child. Today, however, with the wonders of technology, it is possible to be present to be in a room with one’s child, even holding the child on one’s lap, and be completely absorbed in the important business call on one’s cellphone, the solitaire game on one’s netbook, shopping on one’s laptop, surfing the web on one’s smartphone, etc.

Whereas previously, parents pushing children on the swings would talk to their children (“Look at the squirrel!”) or each other, they’re now often engaged on the phone—physically present; mentally absent.

I’ve even seen a mother too engaged in her mobile phone conversations to stop talking while crossing a moderately busy four-lane street with four children in tow.

In the Handbook of Child Psychology: Social, emotional, and personality development (ed. Damon and Lerner, 2006), an essay “Socialization in the Family: Ethnic and Ecological Perspectives” by Parke and Buriel states: “Quality rather than quantity of parent-child interaction is the important predictor of cognitive and social development” (p. 438).

What is to be concluded, then, when it’s evident from a trip to the local playground or articles like “The Risks of Parenting While Plugged In” in the New York Times this week, that parents are often not spending quality time with their children?

They may be physically present, but their minds are engaged elsewhere, and parent-child interaction is reduced to the coincidence of bodies in proximity in space. This suggests that the cognitive and social development of at least some young children in our society is at risk—

Something to think about….




Peer Pressure (part 1)

When we think of “peer pressure” we often think of teenagers and the negative influence that teenagers can have on one another in trying to convince them to do bad things that are not within their normal choices. We also often associate the peer pressure with their schoolmates. I am going to write a second part to this that deals specifically with “teen peer pressure” because I feel it is in a realm all of it’s own.

For now I want to discuss the fact that peer pressure effects everyone, and it can have a negative effect or a positive effect. It is important to teach our toddlers social skills even before they start pre-school or kindergarten. While doing this we can also teach them about peer pressure and that it is ok to stand up for themselves if they feel they are being asked to do something they are not comfortable with.

Once they have started school it is important for them to understand the difference between peer pressure and school bullying and know how to handle them both before it starts. If they can learn these communication skills in their early childhood they will be much more prepared for their teenage and adult years where they may be more greatly influenced.

As these children become young adults (13-18) they are more like to start getting peer pressure to do things that can have a major effect on the rest of their lives such as smoking, drinking, drugs, and sex. Discuss these issues with your teens and make sure they are clear on how they are going to handle that kind of peer pressure when it happens. And don’t just talk to them once, talk to them regularly. Also teach them how they can have positive peer pressure with their friends to get them to make good choices by inviting them to study together or attend a movie or a sober party instead of the alternative.

After 18 they are going to be moving on with their lives but that does not mean they are free from peer pressure. If they choose to go to college it can be a very trying time to fight off peer pressure because they may not have the support or influence of family and friends to keep them strong. Even if they are not living at home, keeping open communication with your college student will help them remain strong and focused while attending college.

As adults we need to be setting the example to them all along by practicing what we preach and remaining strong and making good choices when our “peers” try to influence us. Even as parents we have the ability to gently apply positive pressure with our children to insure they become strong educated successful adults.