Friday, February 05, 2010

Playdate Peer Pressue -- by Robin

When does peer pressure start to influence your child?

We had a playdate this past weekend, and I was somewhat stunned at the behavior of my son. His friend came over, and he's a bit younger than Seth, and a very active boy. Seth is too, but at times, it felt like this boy topped him.

The plan was to play in our newly refurbished basement. And, his parents came too. We're all good friends, so it was a good opportunity for everyone to socialize. And, we were excited to showcase our basement and to be able to share it, since the whole construction process was quite the ordeal (if you read my previous blog).

From the moment the boy arrived, things felt a bit wild in the house. They wound up running up 'n down the stairs, playing in Seth's room, the hall, in the basement...all over the house. I had baked a quiche, and was serving lunch in the basement for my friends, and had made mac 'n cheese for the boys. Certainly, we knew in all their excitement of being together, shooting Nerf guns, etc., that taking a lunch break was no where on their minds. That was okay. But, what transpired was not okay in my book.

As they rain upstairs, they deliberately pushed the sliding lock on the basement door (outside the door), and locked the three adults in the basement. We could not get out. It was very unsettling. We banged on the door and yelled and yelled, and finally they let us out. And, then 10 minutes later, they did it again, despite our scolding them.

This time I had enough, and my friend asked for a screwdriver removed the lock from the door, and I took the two boys in the kitchen, sat them down to eat their now cold lunch, and we had a discussion about behavior, safety, etc.

I told Seth there would be punishment for his behavior, and that mommy and daddy would discuss it and let him know what it is. My friends said that it wasn't Seth's fault. That their son was involved as well, but that didn't make it any better for me. Seth didn't stop it.

What arose for me with this experience is of great concern. Seth is six...soon to be seven....and at what age do kids just go along with other kids, even if they know their behavior isn't ideal? And, actually downright dangerous.

I said to my husband that Seth needs to learn a big lesson from this. But, is it possible at his young age? Is it too much to expect a six year old to grasp that he doesn't have to go along with the crowd, or even just one other child?

And, what happens as he gets older? Today, it's locking a basement door. They'll be countless other influences and influencers who come into his life as he matures. Will he be discerning enough to resist? Will he emerge a leader vs. a follower?

How can you as parent instill in your child an innate sense of what is right and wrong? Is it possible?

We can't be by his side 24-7, especially as he spends more and more time with friends, and less with mommy & daddy, so he will need to reach conclusions on his own.

I do want to set in place an understanding of values that he can apply to help guide him through life in a positive way.

I'd love to hear from you. Do you have older children, and how have you dealt with this matter? If you have younger children, is it something you think about? Please do share....I welcome stories and advice.

PS -- Be sure to sign up for our free monthly newsletter at The February giveaway is courtesy of Lisa Leonard Designs, makes of something unique custom jewelry & more, enjoyed by celebrities and others.

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