One of the scariest things for parents can be sending your children off into the world of friends, school or any other place where they will have peers. We don’t want them to follow the wrong crowd and make not-so-good decisions.
Early in my parenting years, I was worried that my elementary-aged daughter would easily follow anyone. She has always been a social butterfly and loves people.
Even later on when she was older and homeschooled, I still worried when she went off with peers that she would follow those that seemed popular for no reason other than they were likable and seemed like a fun crowd to be around.Parenting has never been easy, ask God! Click To Tweet
It turns out, most parents have these same concerns. In fact, every good parent goes through this struggle at some point in their parenting journey.
How do you keep your children from following the wrong crowd? I understand that we can’t protect them from everything. But is there a way to help them and guide the in the right direction?
There is guidance that can help us prevent our children from going down the wrong path of friendships and following the wrong crowd. In Psalm 17:4, it says, if we follow His commands, they (commands) will keep us from following cruel and evil people.
That seems simple enough. However, we have to be sure that we are following the same rules that we want our children to follow. They watch us with hawk-like eyes. Watching every movement, every word, every interaction with others. Everything! We can’t hold them accountable until we hold ourself accountable. As you go through each of these 10 steps, go through them for yourself first and then your children. Then use these to help keep your children safe and away from the wrong crowd.
The 10 steps to prevent your children from following the wrong crowd.
1. Want. Jealousy comes from want. Children often want those toys that belong to someone else, very much! Adults do this too! We all have to learn to be happy with what we have, not with what our neighbors have.
This is not an easy task to teach a child, or an adult sometimes! Teach them to take special care of what they do have and that what they have is very special. Show them that there are others that have much less or nothing at all. We need to learn to be content with what God has provided for us.
2. Lying. Making things up, exaggerating and stretching the truth is in any form a lie. Exaggerating seems like a harmless thing, but when you think about it, it is a lie. Some children don’t know where the limit is in making up stories or exaggerating. This can easily turn into the habit of lying.
In every way, lying hurts us and others. When we lie, the natural progression is to follow others that lie too. Gossip and rumors follow in these crowds. If you notice your child exaggerating or spreading rumors, sit them down and explain how these type of lies can hurt people and their own self-image.
3. Stealing. When a child wants something so bad, they can easily be swayed into stealing. If they are in a crowd that encourages them, then stealing can become a habit.
Children need to learn at an early age that taking another child’s toy is not ok. Stealing always hurts someone. If an item is taken, then it must be returned as soon as you notice that your child has stolen it.
I remember when my mom took me back to a store when I was little, to give back the innocent little artificial rose, that was on the floor, sitting so lonely, unattached from its bunch. I was mortified, I cried, I said “no mommy, I can’t go back in there”. But she dragged me, crying and all. I NEVER stole again. This lesson is hard not only for the child but for the parent as well. And it may take more than once. Stand firm, try to overcome the embarrassment of what your child did and help them to learn a valuable lesson.
4. Cheating. This one often happens when children are playing games. They feel in order to get ahead, they need to cheat and be deceitful. However, they don’t think they are doing anything wrong. They just want to be the winner, to have what they want, to take over someone else’s prize.
When they are teens and have followed this way of life, they will go along with the crowd to cheat on friends, girlfriends and boyfriends and into the future with committing adultery.
Start now by teaching them to play fair, that it’s ok to lose and honor those that have won. To not dishonor others by cheating.
5. Killing. Seems extreme, right? But if you think about it, how often are your children already killing something? I’m not against video games (completely) but are your children killing in video games? Are they playing these games everyday and being programmed that killing is a normal everyday occurrence?
Are their friends playing these games too? Do they have discussions about all they accomplished on the game? You never want these discussions to become real life discussions.
Look over the games and apps they are engaging in. If it’s a possibility the game is leading them down the wrong path, and associating with the wrong type of friends, you may want to limit play time or ban certain games.
6. Respect. First, children need to learn to respect their parents. In order for children to respect their parents, parents need to be worthy of that respect. It’s hard to respect a parent that cheats, lies and steals. When children respect their parents, they learn to respect others as well.
If your child hangs around other children that are disrespectful to their parents, it’s only a matter of time before you child will follow suit.
If your child sees another child talking back to their parent, take your child aside and explain why that type of behavior is not ok. And also tell them the right way to behave and proper things to say to an adult if they don’t agree with that adult. Children need coaching.
7. Rest. Taking a day out of the week to rest from the overwhelming everyday tasks can be vital to a child. We often run and run and run, dragging our children along with us. We must first show our children why it’s important to take a restful or sabbath day. Why it’s important to build that relationship with God, who has given us the rest of the week to do our duties and fun activities.
When we learn to take this rest, slow down and relax with God, we can better prepare for the week ahead. We can be ready for the attacks against us and be prepared to stand up for what is right.
Children need this rest, they have so much going on in their little lives. Their bodies are changing every day, emotionally and physically. They are around so many people each day and are experiencing new things at a rate that would make our heads spin. Give them a fighting chance to stay away from the wrong crowd with a rest.
8. Speaking. Words are so powerful, more so than most people think. They can lift you up or tear you down. We need to be so careful and gentle with our words, especially when speaking to children. Again, what we say or show them, they will certainly do and repeat.
We are bombarded by profanity, insults, verbal abuse, everyday by media, peers and even family. Protect your children as much as possible from these hurtful sources. I know it’s not easy to watch TV any more. Every other word is an insult or curse word. If our children get accustomed to these words, they will use them and hang around people that use them all the time.
9. Idols. Who do your children look up to? Is it the latest pop-star or sports figure? If children learn to look up to the most popular kid in school or big-hit actor on their favorite show, they will easily follow the “popular” kid in the wrong crowd.
Just like people, things can become idols too. Do they hold a toy in such high regard that they could never conceive of giving it away to a less fortunate child? Sometimes teaching a child to give away some of their toys for another child can help them to learn that items are not of the greatest importance. I’m not saying give away their blankee or snuggy, but teach them that items are only items.
10. Trust. If you’ve noticed, these 10 tips follow the 10 commandments. Truly, the ultimate guide to living a good life.
Trust is a huge matter. Just as children, especially teens are to earn our trust. We must give good reason for our children to trust us. If we use “little-white-lies” or any type of deceit with our children, they will never learn to trust us whole-heartily. When you tell them why it’s important to not follow that certain crowd, do you want them to trust you or not?
Ultimately, number 10 is having a true faith and trust in God. Having no other gods before him. Putting him first in your life. Making Him a priority.
Parenting isn’t Easy!
He has given us His children as precious gifts to take care of and teach for a short time. If you allow Him to, He will guide you and lead you in just the right way.
Parenting has never been easy, ask God!! Will you be perfect at every step? Probably not, I know I’m not. But at every chance, take the opportunity to teach these important commands to help lead your children to a future that is promising and whole.
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