Thursday, January 11, 2007

Follow The Crowd, But The Right Crowd

"Be honorable yourself if you wish to associate with honorable people." - Welsh Proverb

This kind of a lesson shouldn't be necessary. Of course honorable people will associate with honorable people. Isn't that obvious?

No. It's a lesson in social skills. In general, our society does not teach social skills formally. That means that social skills do not automatically become part of the skill set that children carry into adulthood.

We need to teach all social skills and this is one of the better ones.

Children need to be taught that they should associate with the kind of kids that are the way they would like to be themselves.

Who do kids most want to associate with? The most popular kids in the neighbourhood or classroom. That's natural. Social animals all tend to gather around leaders. The ones with the biggest crowds around them gain more followers.

Any child with any kind of strong message or physical strength or athletic skill can have a following. Bullies often have gangs that follow them around, for example.

The person who could become the leader of your religious group, however, may not have any followers because he or she doesn't yet have a strong message to convey to others.

Kids need to be taught to follow those who set the best examples. And why they should not follow those who set bad examples, even if the latter are more popular.

The ones who set good examples will be more popular when we teach more children to associate themselves with those who set good examples. It's the same reason why we tend to saee the movie we have heard most about.

No child wants to be known as a brown-noser or a teacher's pet. Yet those same children may have admirable qualities that other kids would follow if they knew they should. Most children will choose peers as friends, given the opportunity. They may focus on a teacher rather than other children if they believe that others kids will not join them.

Honorable people associate with honorable people. They don't consider dishonest people, bullies, egotistical sports heroes or movie stars as heroes if they have been taught that these people set bad examples and they will eventually all find themselves in trouble as social misfits.

It's a simple lesson. Simple lessons are easy to teach provided that they are taught before children find themselves going down the wrong path of life.

Don't wait for your child or grandchild to make a grave mistake before pointing him or her toward the right path. Do it early. Kids learn easily when they are very young.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, striving to show the difference at the right time.
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