Trading Peer Pressure for “Productive Influence” (Episode 157)
Peer pressure can definitely get a bad reputation. Typically what comes to mind is shaming, force, and negativity. However...sometimes a little peer pressure can be a good thing. Maybe it's more about our approach that makes all the difference.
Instead of "Peer Pressure," What could be a "productive influence" in your life?
We've been covering all things homeschooling in the past few weeks, and, while hanging with our dear friends the Lombardos, there have been countless inspiring conversations around parenting, life, and more.
So when I was chatting with them last night, we were talking about what the focus of this podcast could be, and we started to discuss this concept of peer pressure not always being a bad thing.
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Our two seven-year-old daughters have been two peas in a pod the whole time we've been here - and in our observations, we've been pleasantly surprised at how they have influenced each other in a positive way.
For Chloe, being a naturally more cautious child, she wasn't as physically "loose" as Juliet. Her mother Sarrah relayed her joy to me as she came upon her daughter running through the woods, covered in mud and bloody scrapes, footloose and fancy-free.
Chloe wasn't pressured to get herself dirty and run through the woods. It wasn't that she was being teased that she couldn't keep up, or that her friends gave her an ultimatum on playing.
But she saw her friends experiencing pure joy running through the woods without a care in the world. And she made the decision on her own to choose the fun over her fear. And Juliet didn't question or challenge her; she simply expected her to join in, because, why not?
Juliet, on the other hand, was also impacted by Chloe. In our seven-year-old daughter's world, she has a high standard for wanting to be the best. And this has been a frustration for her with reading, as she tends to plow forward and only want to read when she has full confidence in it...but has been unwilling to practice (and potentially get it wrong).
But then there was Chloe, passing along some of her Magic Treehouse books...and that eye-opening realization from Juliet that Chloe was not only reading books way beyond what she was doing, but that she had already completed some chapter books??!!
This was a definite kick in the pants to Juliet, and I think her talking to Chloe was a bigger boost in her reading than anything else we could to. It wasn't her parents talking to her about it, but her being able to ask questions to her friend about how she learned, and really realizing for the first time how nothing will help more than practice.
Not only did she want to practice, she knew Chloe had "school time" every morning, and she wanted the same. She's asked for more routine and schedules, projects to do and check off, and has made her own challenge to read a few pages every single morning and write in her Big Life Journal. I attribute all of that to the "productive influence" of Chloe.
What is your personal accountability?
With Juliet, I want to stress to COMPLETE, not compete. However, I can harness her competitive nature within herself. Instead of competing so much with others, she, instead, competes with herself, creating her own challenges to push her own knowledge further.
Avoid the comparison Trap
And no, we aren't even going to start with comparisons. Not only does this serve no one, you may be lost wanting something that isn't even a fit for you. I keep going back to this instagram post I saw a while back:
Look at others for inspiration. Look at others for proof of concept. Look at others to get ideas and insights into what might possibly work for you.
But draw the line there - we don't need two of that person. We need them...and we need YOU - and what you have to offer is going to be all wrapped up into who you are and the stories and perspectives unique to you.
So much still goes back to personality styles - what looks like success and prosperity for someone else may be completely opposite of your personality style and what you'd even enjoy.
DOn't Shame or "should"
So much of this has to do with how we present things - are we immediately comparing, or using someone else as an example of what we (or our children) should do?
What is your approach? Do you think along the lines of a growth mindset?
My father has always said, "we don't have a problem; we have an opportunity for a solution." And so that's what I defaulted to - that was the mantra and perspective I grew up with. Seeing something someone else had that I lacked was only a "problem" if I saw it that way. Otherwise, it was an opportunity.
- Does it inspire me and give me a new idea?
- Does it affirm to me that what I want to do is valid? (proof of concept)
- Can this person be my muse, my accountability, or my motivation to take personal responsibility in my own life?
Pay attention to the wanter - is it really what you want? Are you just going down a path of jealousy, seeing one aspect of someone else's life and wanting it, but not really looking at the whole package, and what that person may have sacrificed/endured/risen above in order to get there?
Complete, don't compete
We can't compare one unique individual to another. Each is going to be different, as we bring in all those elements of our own personal story. What perspective and story are you writing around a comparison - is it a competition, or a collaboration? Can we all rise up...together?
Instead of stealing someone else's energy; we look for opportunities for synergy.
As others rise in their own greatness, look at how you're lifting one another up on your own journey vs. pulling people back down - that creates a losing scenario all around.
I love to see how these two girls celebrate their differences and cheer each other on vs. putting each other down.
Bruise their Shins, not their hearts
We talk a lot in the podcast episode about the beauty in the struggle, and in our children falling down, messing up, and seeing how they measure up to those around them. We want to give them gentle pressure to expand their minds, move past their fears, and learn resilience in an environment that will love and support them through it.
We have that opportunity in our own homes. Let them fall down. Let them get hurt. Let them struggle. And let them watch you do the same...and get back up. Learn, grow, and improve. Let them learn about the beauty in the struggle and the importance of emotional resilience in your home first and foremost, before they go out to the big, less-forgiving world.
Know your motivators
Know what motivates the people in your home. This is different for many. Positive pressure will be a variety. What is positive for one person is a negative for another. For example, I'll challenge Juliet: "I bet you can't do..." That same challenge may completely shut down my daughter Ellie. But for Jules, the personal competitive streak is something I utilize to push her even further in her own development.
For Ellie, I would lead more by example, inviting her to join me and doing it together. For her, the more she's involved in the social aspect, the more she will be influenced - so we look for ways for the social aspect to fuel her forward for good.
And yet for our oldest, sometimes it's a little nudge and then pulling back, giving her the space to process and then come back to it on her own.
Sometimes you just need to ask - what is really important to you, and how would you like to be motivated by it?
Have a conversation before you jump to conclusions. Every. Single. Time.
Get Intentional About Your Influences
Get really intentional about where you choose to spend your time and what you choose to surround yourself by. It's not that you cut off anyone who isn't a perfect positive in your life. But get really intentional about what you surround yourself by. Do you have the news blaring constantly in the background? Do you have friends that bring in gossip and drama constantly, or that person that seems to always be a victim of circumstances?
We've found a common theme we hold onto - we surround ourselves with people and things that promote a growth mindset. We've found this is hands-down the most positive thing we've done. These people may come and go in our lives - some people just stay for a season. Yet this common theme of a growth mindset has definitely stayed strong with the people we choose to keep in our circles of influence.
Some additional resources for you
- Real Talk with Two Homeschooling Mamas (Episode 156)
- What To Do About School In 2020 (Episode 155)
- Why Are Snakes In Our House (Episode 154)
- What is Functional Education? (Video)
- Homeschool State Laws - HSLDA
- But What About Socialization?
- My Child Will Never Read
- Learn more about DISC Personality Styles
- Life Long Learners Come In All Personality Styles
- How can I be both teacher and student? Reach for the sun yourself! (Episode 74)
- Homeschool Rebuttals (Episode 61)
- History in a Distillery and other opportunities for learning (Episode 47)
- What is your internal motivation? (Episode 44)
- Your Credibility as Lead Explorer, Not A Teacher (Episode 42)
- What Type Of Thinker Are You? (Episode 43)
- Embrace The Struggle (Episode 41)
- Are You A Different Drummer? (Episode 39)
- Deschooling and the Myths of Education (Episode 40)
Your Weekly Challenge:
Rethink "peer pressure." Maybe rephrase it to "productive influence", and look for how you can use it as a positive to fuel you - or your family - further.
And if it's NOT positive, think hard about how much energy you're spending on it.
We all want to be focusing in on those things that are our superpowers - those gifts and strengths that are unique to us. The more we can appreciate and highlight this, we can see how the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us. Namaste