Everybody knows that friends are immensely important for a child’s development, and they can have a great influence on their life. They can provide support in hours in need, and they are there to share our success and our happiness.
But to do friends also influence your child’s grades?
And if they do, is it a positive influence or a negative one?
What can you do to manage it?
To find answers to these questions, keep reading.
Before we actually get to how friends influence our children’s grades, let’s have a look at the general influence they exert over our children. Some of the child’s actions may be a result of peer pressure. To put it simply, the child wants to fit in with the group of friends, and they act in the same way their friends do even if that means suppressing their own true feelings.
If your child is surrounded by friends who think that doing well in school is important, they are more likely to try harder and be more studious so as to be accepted in the group.
On the other hand, if your child’s friends tell them that school doesn’t matter, then this may have a negative influence on your child’s motivation to study even if they are naturally very talented and studious.
Such influences are especially dangerous for younger children who haven’t yet found their own personal sense of identity and tend to judge themselves by how others view them.
So it is extremely important to surround your child with peers who will be a good example for them. Behavioral experts have been studying peer pressure and its effect on failure for a long time, trying to understand how your friends can cause you to fail (especially at school).
One study discovered that if a child belongs to a group of friends where most of the members have a high GPA, then the child will try their best to keep up with their peers.
If, on the other hand, the children in the group of friends tend to have a low GPA, a new member of this group will not study as hard as they can because they don’t want to be different from their peers. This study focuses on the influence of a large group and not on the influence of one single friend. There are many other negative as well as positive influences so let’s examine some of them in detail.
If one member of the group is doing particularly well in terms of studying, this may cause feelings of jealousy among some other children. Children don’t have the necessary skills to process this complex emotion in a healthy way, so their natural instinct may be to bring their successful friend down to their level by ridiculing their success.
Friends with no long-term plans.
A group of friends may consist of people who are quite unambitious and have no idea what they want to do in the future. This can also negatively impact your child and demotivate them from planning their future. Unambitious people tend to say demotivating things to their ambitious friends in an effort to bring them down to their level because they don’t want to feel bad about wasting their time.
Some youngsters tend to be downright rude, and if they see anybody trying their hardest or being different from the others, they label them as a "nerd" or a "geek" and call them hurtful names. This is an extreme case of bad influence, and in some cases, it cannot be ignored and requires the adult's intervention.
Nobody wants to be bullied at school, so for this reason, many talented children tend to keep their heads down, and some may even stop studying on purpose in order to avoid unwanted attention. However, hurting your future prospects just so that the children at school leave you alone is never the right way to go.
After the bullying problem is resolved, the child can start working on building their self-confidence and becoming a successful student they have always wanted to be.
Now let's speak about several positive influences.
Good friends can motivate you to do better.
If your child is lucky enough to be surrounded by an ambitious and highly motivated social circle, they will feel energized and push themselves to do better in school. Being a member of a high achieving group of friends also helps develop a competitive spirit. Friends in such groups are always trying to one-up each other and ultimately end up achieving a lot as a group.
Two heads are better than one.
If your child has friends who are more knowledgeable in certain subjects, they can study together, and in some cases, they can even tutor your child and help them do better in that subject. Friends with a similar academic interest form a study group where they can do their homework together and exchange ideas. This helps your child build communication skills and become a better team player, which will undoubtedly be useful for them in the future no matter which career they end up in.
So now that we know that friends can have a huge influence on your children's life and grades, how do we make sure that they are hanging out with the right crowd?
Unless you are dealing with an extreme case of bad influence, you can't just forbid your child from seeing their friend. This may result in a protest against you. You are better off introducing them to children who you believe are a good influence and telling them encouraging things to build their self-confidence.
This way, the child may realize that they have an alternative, and they do not need to put up with the people who bring negative energy into their life.