The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines influence as:
The act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command; corrupt interference with authority for personal gain; the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways
Influence is an important word in today’s society. Daily, we influence others and are influenced by others. Influence comes from many sources: an advertisement on television promising you’ll be slim in 60 days or less; a boss encouraging you to stretch your workplace skills; a schoolyard bully taunting another child; a sweet-faced toddler pouting to get another piece of candy.
Influence is everywhere.
It’s hard enough for you, as an adult, to manage the influences in the world. Think about what it’s like for a young person who is ill equipped to manage the flood of influence bombarding him every day.
Rest assured. Influence can be good, and it can be bad. The challenge for kids comes in discerning between the two.
Parents and caregivers can help by teaching kids to develop their own influence, also known as their internal GPS. Influence is the component of your GPS that instructs your values and reminds you of basic principles like, “Be kind to others.”
Growing the influence component in your kids’ GPS system starts by:
- Developing a close connection with your children. Children who are close to their parents tend to be more grounded and secure in who they are, which enables them to be strong when negative influences comes their way.
- Encourage individuality. Everyone, adult or child, wants to fit it. Those who don’t have a healthy balance between acceptance and independence often suffer from negative influences. Teach your children to importance of being their own person and always doing what’s right for them.
- Support positive influencers. Be aware of who your children interact with, even from a very early age. Teach them to seek out positive qualities in their friends and also model what it means to be a positive influence on others (sometimes it’s your kid who is the negative influence!).
We live in challenging times. It’s in these moments that we’re most susceptible to influence, positive or negative. In what ways have you increased the positive influence in your life, or your child’s life? Please share your experiences!
image credit: studiostoer via Flickr