In part one, we began to explore the world of young people, and how they are faced with ongoing influences that can impact heavily on their lives as they grow.

In part two, we will continue to explore this very important element within your child’s upbringing.

External influences:

The decisions a child makes as to how to engage with their world is influenced by more than just learned and/or natural behaviours. At every stage of life, we are faced with the task of interacting with our world.

We are continually bombarded with external influences on our behaviour and thinking; ideas, expectations, opinions that can influence our day to day lives, not to mention our futures.

These outside forces will confront us from the day we are born, but over time, the context in which they appear will make meaning of the content. For example;

  •   a young child will be heavily influenced by his/her parents, and most likely mum
  •   teenagers are more likely to be influenced by what their friends think, and what social media is saying than older folk.

Modelling others:

Most of us know modelling is a useful strategy for learning new behaviours and skills. However, what many of us overlook is the reality that our children model us from a very early age.

The essence of modelling is that the learner never asks the model why they are doing something, what they are feeling etc. The value is in seeing and adopting what we observe “as is”, and children are excellent at doing just this.

When your child acts out in a particular fashion you consider unsuitable, check whether this is something they have seen you as parents doing, or perhaps their friends or teachers. If so, your task is to gently ‘re-model’ the behaviours you would prefer them to exhibit. This is not an easy task, and many children see it as a game, so patience and consistency is key.

Mimicking language:

This influence on a child’s behaviour is perhaps one of the hardest to control, as many parents have discovered. While many seek to act like you, certainly most children do like to sound like you.

How many times do parents find themselves embarrassed when their young old child offers a clear and not so nice expletive? And then make a big noise about it to their child, demanding they don’t say it, that they are being naughty and so on.

For many children, the mere act of responding to this use of language is the greatest spur to continue saying it. The hardest thing for a parent to do is ignore it, or quietly and calmly suggest an alternative, saying, for example, that it is not nice behaviour.

And, when a parent continues to use any inappropriate language, they are really unconsciously telling their child that it is okay to do so, despite what they say.

Oh, what a hard and treacherous road we as parents travel on.

Genetic heritage:

There is not much we can do about our genetic past. We are all ‘victims’ of the genes we inherit from past generations.

So, before you ask why your child has green eyes when you both don’t, or where a particular gesture came from, or why they frown or smile as they do, chances are it belongs to someone in their more distant past.

It is not natural behaviour, nor learned behaviour, and it probably didn’t come from other external influences. It is just who they are.

So, our children, the love of our lives, the bane of our existence. They are people, just like you, and they have their own uniqueness…just like you.

Children that are encouraged to be themselves, while being guided and supported appropriately, are most likely to grow into adulthood with the least frustration and anger, with the least sense of being lost or unfulfilled.

They will have:

  •      open and accepting minds
  •      strong self- belief
  •      confidence to ask parents for advice because they are trusted, valued and respected.

Will your child have the freedom to explore his or her own true self, with your help? To be a round peg in a round hole?

It is never too early to create this open and positive mindset, though the choice will always start with you.

Catch part one of this article here.

What else would you add? Share with us below.

 Image source Shutterstock.

  • An interesting topic and much to think about.


  • My son was always a square peg in a round hole. He found school hard. But he’s now found his niche in life, still a square peg, but living and thriving as one


  • I find this really interesting reading. My son is certainly a product of my husband and I in different ways. People often comment that he’s so like me in certain behaviours, and/or so like his Dad in different behaviours. I believe we present as good role models and also encourage external situations as well.


  • Think indeed it’s a combi of nurture and nature, family, friends, society and school.


  • I think poor behaviours among school aged children are caused by social imbalance. A child who spends too much time with peers (anything like about half your average school day) learns their primary social skills (or lack of), language, mannerisms etc. from their peers. They do not get a chance to learn 1on1 from parents, adults, teachers or older more mature young people because they do not have access to such social relationships for the time needed. Peers are all they have. And most children experience too much time with peers, not enough with adults, and the resulting impoverished social environment leads to bad behaviours. Parents aren’t always the perfect role mode, and in a more balanced environment these parental mishaps might be balanced out by relationships with other adults who model differently. In an imbalanced environment the child just ends up modelling for others the bad stuff and learning other bad stuff.


  • It does come down to modelling – kids hear and watch everything and anything parents and role models say and do. We are the very first teachers of our children.


  • I wonder if there is a rise in the “do as I say, not as I do” type of mentality when watching some kids in the community. Teaching kids good habits and empathy to others starts in the home.

    • It does indeed start and continue in the home.


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