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How Do Bad Influences Affect Kids' School Work?

by Erica Loop

While you might not exactly take a shine to the boy next door who always seems to get your child to act out of character, bad influences can do much more than cause your kid to come home late or start wearing a new -- and seemingly odd-looking -- fashion. Bad influences can impact your child's school work, making him more likely to blow off class, not study or stop caring about getting acceptable grades.

Bad Influences and Peer Pressure Basics

As your child moves into the later elementary, middle and high school years, peer pressure may begin to affect her decisions, beliefs and values. While your child may have her own ideas when it comes to schoolwork and getting good grades, her peers may influence her to think otherwise. According to KidsHealth, peers can negatively influence your child and make her feel like she needs to comply with their requests -- or demands -- in order to fit in.

Skipping School

While your child's friend influencing him to cut class may seem more like a discipline problem, it can also impact his school success. Friends and classmates may exert pressure on your child to skip school by making him feel uncool or unpopular if he doesn't follow their lead. Most students spend between 900 and 1,000 hours each year in instructional time, according to the Center for Public Education. Skipping school because a friend negatively influences your child means that he misses out on this valuable learning time. While the most major consequences may include detention or suspension, your child will still see his school work suffer even if he doesn't get caught.

Fitting In

One of the main issues that kids face as they head toward the preteen and teen years is fitting in with their peers. While your child may have her true friends, she may also change her behaviors to fit in with a popular clique. Unlike real friendships, cliques often use exclusionary tactics to make other kids want to join in. For example, your child -- who formerly got straight A's -- may start getting C's or lower because the cool clique members tell her that being brainy is not acceptable. In an effort to fit in, or conform, to the clique's guidelines, you may see your child acting in a decidedly non-scholastic way. Instead of grounding her or yelling at her, help her to understand how cliques work and talk about your own experiences in school. Explain that doing badly on her school work won't win her true friends; it will just land her in summer school.

Risky Activities

Not only can a bad influence change how your child views school, the grades that he gets and whether he actually attends classes, but it can also affect his engagement in other activities that may distract from school work. The American Academy of Pediatrics, on their HealthyChildren.org website, notes that there is an intense amount of peer pressure to try drugs during adolescence. A bad influence on your child may exert pressure to engage in drug use or drink alcohol. Frequent use of substances may result in your child neglecting school work, skipping school or not having the focusing abilities to complete assignments in an adequate way.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Photo Credits

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