We all naturally want to fit in with our peer group. Whether we are an adult or a child, we tend to want to be accepted and included in conversations and feel a part of something.
There are always exceptions to the rule and some adults or children are not that bothered about being accepted or don’t feel they need to belong in a group. Most of the children I work with do care and will copy the behaviour of those around them in order to fit in.
They copy so that their friends will think they are more like them and include them. Some children will copy by saying similar things, having the same opinions, agreeing with what their peer group are saying all the time and using the same words. Some children will copy the behaviour – using the same mannerisms or try and dress like their friends. It is all about acceptance and I think the majority of us have done this at some time or another.
Do we want our children to copy others to fit in? What can we do about it if we don’t?
I am sure most of you will agree with me when I say a bit of copying is okay – dressing similar is acceptable so long as it does not compromise the style your child likes. Having the same opinion sometimes is fine too, as is using the same lingo. When you hang around with people long enough sometimes you do morph into one another.
When copying becomes a problem
It can all become too much when a child goes against what they believe in and changes the way they are to fit in. When they do, we need to try and understand why they want to do this and discuss the importance of being individual/unique to help them see the value of being different.
We can help them like who they are and their self-esteem if it’s low. Help them to be proud of what they stand for and to be happy. Copying is a form of flattery but it is possible to fit in without compromising things about you.
Teach your children to be themselves – others will either accept them or not. If they don’t, then they aren’t true friends anyway.