Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

You only have a few years to be the most important people in your kids’ lives. After that, you lose some of your influence to teachers, friends, and celebrities. Once your kids enter adolescence, their friends will likely have more influence on them that you will. Peer pressure is a powerful force but as a parent, you can take a proactive approach to help your kids resist negative influences around them. It starts by keeping the lines of communication open (which can be harder than you think).

Talk to your children about right and wrong

Talking to your kids about right and wrong starts when they are very small. Our granddaughter, Hallie, is not even a year and half old yet, but her mother makes her apologize when she bites or hits. We help her understand that it’s a bad choice by acting injured or upset when it happens. We forgive her immediately when she says sorry or gives loves to make things better. She is learning quickly. We did the same thing with our kids from the time they were little – emphasizing that every choice (good or bad) comes with consequences. Our mantra was always, “Make good choices.”

Encourage your kids to cultivate their talents

A child who is involved in fulfilling activities is less likely to be tempted by rebellious pursuits. Let them dabble in the things that interest them when they are young – baseball, ballet lessons, music, arts and crafts. Teach them to express themselves by using their talents in music, arts, or sports as they grow older. We’ve done everything from buy a drum set for our son to explore his musical interests to a domain so that our daughter could run her own anti-bullying website.

Talk to your kids about their friends and get to know them

Know who your kids hang with. Our kids aren’t allowed to go to a friend’s house if we don’t know the friend and meet the parents (and by meet, I mean do a thorough background check on them through social media and make sure they don’t have any guns stored irresponsibly in the home). They aren’t allowed to be friends on social media with anyone we don’t know – and they’re not allowed on social media unless we’re friends with them and have access to their accounts.

Tell your children that you care, and be there when they want to talk

You can’t love your kids too much, ok? There’s no such thing as too many hugs, too much love, too much support, too much faith in your kids. If kids are assured of your love and support, they are more likely to come to you when they have a problem. Build self-confidence by letting them know what they are doing right. Let them know what you expect of them, but don’t shun them if they make a mistake. Don’t ridicule or judge them for their choices, and empower them to be individuals.

Set the right example for your kids

Actions speak louder than words, especially in parenting. Set a good example for your children. Parents who model strength, confidence, kindness, tolerance, and positive thinking show children how to face challenges in the future.