Recall the complete friend list of your child. Now think of your own feeling regarding each of these children. It is natural that some of the children would not measure up as high as others, and you may not have very good opinion about some. Though you may be aware of their circumstances, yet as human beings, we cannot accommodate faults of others easily, even if children they be. We normally do under these situations is to dissuade our child to `hang-out` with those children whom we do not approve of. We fear that these children will `spoil` our children. Our fear is very legitimate, but it also means that we put little faith in our children`s capability to choose the good over bad, and right over wrong.
This is actually an opportunity for your child to learn a very new skill ` Peer counseling. Let us see in what way that could help our child.
- Peer counseling is built on the ability to listen to the other person. How can we as parents under-estimate the benefits of listening! There are many children who for the want of some patient listening tend to feel very lonely and left out. Your child can become more purposeful when he is spending time with such a friend.
- It helps the child develop compassion as an added skill which is important for life. The entire environment is geared to make our child competitive. And that does not allow his ability to be compassionate.
- `When they become adults, this little training of helping peers will go a long way in helping their personality. Having counseled a peer and to have helped him deal with challenged inculcates the ability of peer mentoring in your child. Peer mentoring is largely based on unprejudiced acceptance of the reality and then using all the strength present in the peer to overcome the challenge. This is the beginning of leadership training for your child.
- Children spend a lot of time with their friends. Helping them become peer counselors will make the time spent worthwhile and productive. Your child will learn to gain satisfaction through helping others. Since more and more families are nuclear, and with only one child, helpfulness is a trait that they do not get a chance to develop or practice.
- Like the age old maxim, when you teach someone, you end up learning yourself first; peer counseling is an opportunity for your child to look at his own life and appreciate what he has. And while helping the other person deal with problems, your child gains a greater perspective of his own life and learns how to deal with his own life better. Being a peer-counselor teaches children how to be responsible towards another person. Having a clear and pronounced sense of responsibility is a priceless learning for our children. This is one such way to cultivate this quality. In a way, when there is real responsibility, children learn to talk and think with a sense of purpose and not simply engage in idle-talk or casual-advising.
The best antidote to peer pressure and bullying is perhaps inculcating this sense of responsibility towards the well-being of his peers and gradually become peer-counselors. Your child develops a lot of maturity as well as becomes a source of positive change in his environment. Instead of allowing your fears to limit you, let your child evolve out of it by becoming more mature, sensitive and purposeful.