The influence of others can cause both positive and negative effects. When those being influenced are teenagers, it’s a toss up as to which way that influence can go.
Parents frequently learn that their teenager is frequently exposed to teenage boys who are struggling. These boys may have undiagnosed issues. They might be suffering due to issues at home or in some facet of their lives. Nonetheless their struggles almost always result in inappropriate behavior, with your teen on the sidelines looking on.
The Importance of Communication
Is it possible for your teen to continue learning in these kinds of situations? It is. But two strong lines of communication must ensue. There must be a strong line of communication between you and your teen, and there must be a strong line of communication between you and your teen’s school.
While there are actions that may be taken if these struggling teen boys are crossing certain lines—for example if they are jeopardizing the safety of yours and other’s teens or are harming themselves—but otherwise the school will simply impose consequences like detention or suspension. Within a matter of days at best, they’ll be returned to the classrooms and will no doubt continue their displays of inappropriate behavior. This means you must instruct your teen in how to continue learning despite these distractions. In other words, you can help control how your teen reacts, but you have no control over what these struggling teen boys may do.
That said, open a dialogue with your teen about the makeup of their classrooms. Talk about the good students, the class clown and the struggling teens that may be disruptive and derogatory. Unfortunately, even as adults we deal with disruptive and derogatory people. It’s time to turn this situation into a lesson for your teen.
When your teen becomes aware of some of the reasons these struggling teen boys are behaving the way they are, they can develop empathy. When they understand that they might become a good example for them, they develop a sense of responsibility. These are life lessons that far too few teens are learning. They will serve both your teen and those who are struggling in countless ways.
Ask your teen how they believe these struggling teen boys really feel down deep inside. Teach them to react in a compassionate but appropriate way. Sometimes the only kindness struggling teens receive comes from school. Your teen’s behavior might be the one bright light in these struggling teens’ days. And at the same time, they will continue their academic learning as well as learning how to deal with uncomfortable situations.