Parents can make little furry loaves of fallen-out hair in the shower drain worrying about their kids getting sick. But, there’s another non-physical strain of contagion that can become an even scarier threat later.
Children are often referred to as “sponges,” and it’s easily to get from this concept that they start out all nice and clean and empty. But when your kid starts interacting with others, parents can quickly grow worried about their kids becoming that gross, old dish sponge that really needs to replaced or donated to science.
Little Susie only started tantrum-begging after she started going to kindergarten. Little Johnny makes fun of his sister now that he hangs out with Shady McNastypants. You know exactly what I’m talking about, or you can imagine.
There are a whole bunch of things we have to deal with once our kids start absorbing stuff from other kids, but let’s look at some of the less desirable symptoms and side effects of a kid interacting with “friends.”
Okay. So uh… some of this may have come from you. You know. That time they were in the back seat and you got cut off by that %#$@ing %#$@er, remember?
However, kids often share curse words like germs and juicy secrets.
When your kid comes home and says their day was “cray cray” it’s really hard not to throw up a little inside your mind a little. Or when they start flipping bottles or fidget spinning because everyone is doing it.
You may start to have nightmares about their first job interview, but feel some relief that you probably won’t need to pay for college tuition.
We worry about our babies catching a cold, but when they’re older we worry about them catching what’s “cool.” On their own, kids don’t wake up one day and think, “True happiness is a $100 pair of shoes!” or “I’ll die if I can’t go to a birthday party at Disneyland.”
Parents can pay a dear price in the name of peer pressure, in dollars or in begging and drama.
Sure, there are plenty more, and some of these symptoms are really just annoying (but like, suuuuuper annoying), but some of them will make your eyebrows try to climb to the top of your head in frightened concern.
The only real “treatment” for bad influences is to talk to your kid, to stay connected to them so you can be aware of and deal with the negative influences. You’ll suffer sometimes, for sure, (but like, reeeeally suffer), listening to mind-numbing descriptions of YouTube videos or a nutty dream they had.
It’s worth it, though. Even when it’s so tedious your brain wants to jump out of your head and punch you in the face until you’re unconscious.
My partners at TalkEarly also know that the best way to guide your kid is to stay connected all the way through their upbringing. So, you’re there for the times when serious talks, like responsible drinking, come up. Or need to come up.
So, start a conversation early, and never stop. No matter how many Minecraft stories you need to listen to.