Peer Pressure at Four

I never thought I’d have to have this ‘chat’ with Charlotte so early, but sadly it starts young. Of course ‘peer pressure’ is both good and bad. The populace of Charlotte’s Kindi mirrors society in that mostly it is good, but there are some negative elements also. It only takes the occasional bad ‘ring leader’ to influence the weaker willed to create a major headache for the teachers, parents and children alike. Charlotte’s been talking of some ‘bad boys’ for a while now (not that I’m saying it’s all ‘boys’ on the negative peer pressure spectrum!). We’ve had the talk about different families behaving in other ways and spelling out the behaviour we expect in our own home. Charlotte is now familiar with the term ‘peer pressure’ and understanding it can be both a positive and negative influence. She came home the other day and said, ‘It was a good day today. The ‘ring leader’ wasn’t there.’

Charlotte is enjoying the main of her kindergarten time, but is frustrated with some negative peer influences. I’ve observed the brighter children wandering around looking for more to stretch their minds and watched the staff grappling with their huge responsibility of managing close to forty children (there are three teachers). There is some structured time, but in the main the children are free to drift from one activity to another, working out social interactions in their own way.

She hasn’t made any real ‘friendships’ and still talks of the friends she has made through play-dates from her pre-Kindi days. Sadly, those friends have now left Wellington for futures in other countries. Thankfully, one of her friends from her younger years (what am I saying, she’s only four!) has recently returned from an ‘OE’ (overseas experience) and it’s amazing to see how well they interact with one another. They were born three day’s apart and are both extremely intelligent, creative, sensitive, strong-willed and artistic beings. Unfortunately this renewed friendship looks to be short-lived as this friend, like the others she has been attracted to, is soon to go overseas again.

Charlotte, with her friend, and Sophie:

It’s interesting that Charlotte’s friendships have mirrored our own – in that we tend to drift towards fellow expats, travellers and free-minded spirits.

Charlotte has grown so much since starting Kindergarten, but with it she’s brought home a few negative behaviours, which we’ve had to work through. She’s also had days when she’s fained illness or openly said she’d rather learn at home and I’ve been open to some days of creative learning. It’s so very sad that she’s experiencing this so young, but I’m thankful that she’s strong-willed and not easily influenced to ‘go with the crowd’, though the pressure is already clearly evident. It’s hard as a parent to ‘let go’ and I’m not at all sure how healthy it is to give over easily to an environment that isn’t holistically giving my child all that I would like – but surely that’s a natural feeling for any caring parent, especially of their first child!? It doesn’t help that my natural Aries, Tiger birth sign, doesn’t lend easily to authority and I have a natural inclination to go against anything that doesn’t feel ‘right’ and look for another path!