In the last few years, the term influencer has taken the celebrity world by storm.
In fact, in 2019 the word was officially added to the dictionary, and Influencer Marketing is a business worth between $5-10 billion!
As a result, when we think of influencers, we think of social media and celebs.
But if you think of your child, who are the people that directly influence them? Furthermore, what impact do their influencers have on them?
Who Influences Your Child?
The people who influence your child’s life don’t have to be celebrities; they could be their friends, school peers, siblings, teachers, relatives and maybe even you!
All of these connections can have an impact on your child’s mental health.
They can affect your child’s self-esteem, wellbeing, mood, behaviours and habits, and ultimately sway the person your child becomes and how they succeed in life.
It’s understandable for parents and carers to want to curb any negative influences in your child’s life and even try to cut out any bad ones.
It is natural to only want the best for your child, including the best possible role models.
However, instead of actively trying to change the people in your child’s life, it can be helpful to get your child to reflect on their circle and get them to check whether those around them are having a positive or negative impact.
How Influencers Have Impact
Jim Rohn coined the famous phrase that you ‘are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with’.
This means that those closest to you can greatly impact how you see yourself and how you act.
Another popular phrase is “show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future”.
If you surround yourself with positive influencers, you can see what’s possible in your own life
The Flourished Minds Influencers
There have been lots of influencers that have made an impact on Flourished Minds founder, Karen Cruise.
The first significant influencer for Karen was at school.
In middle school, her headteacher was the first black headteacher in Leeds.
This inspiration showed Karen what was possible when you follow your passion and have self-belief.
As a child, Karen had the positive influence of her parents.
Parents who shared unconditional love while also showing Karen the value of working hard to achieve great things, against all the odds.
In a professional capacity, a Chief Executive at a former role introduced Karen to coaching and the profound difference Karen could make through coaching.
These are just a few of the major influences that Flourished Minds has to thank for helping the business to grow and thrive.
Looking At The Influencers In Your Child’s Life
One of the tools we use with children and young adults is to get them to reflect on the influences they have in their life.
We’ll explore this circle of friends, school peers, family and their local community contacts.
By partnering with the child in this way, it is possible to see how their inner circle can make a difference to their:
- Happiness and wellbeing.
When we create this space for the child to reflect on the influences in their life, they have an awareness of the types of people who energise, motivate and support them.
They also begin to recognise the influences that may be causing harm or that may drain their energy.
Influencer Exercise: How To Check-In With Your Child’s Circle Of Influencers
A great exercise to do with your child is to check the impact that their closest contacts have on them.
This is a fantastic way to help your child reflect, but it is important for you to remain open-minded in the process.
Your child will not appreciate you trying to stop them from seeing their friends or judging their reactions when they share their responses.
1 – To start, ask your child to close their eyes and picture the five people they spend most of their time with.
2 – When they can picture their five contacts, ask them to visualise these five people – what are they wearing, what are they doing, what expressions do they have on their faces, what is their body language saying?
3 – Ask your child to imagine meeting each of the five people individually (or when their name pops up on their phone).
When your child thinks about them, how do they feel?
It can help to ask what their deepest emotion is when they think about this person.
Alternatively, ask what their initial reaction is.
For example, are they excited to talk to them, does their heart sink, do they feel anxious, joy, reluctance and hesitation or urgent and hopeful?
If your child or teenager doesn’t feel comfortable saying these words out loud, they may prefer to write them down or draw pictures.
4 – Then, ask your child to think about the last few times they saw or communicated with them.
Did your child have fun or a positive experience? Maybe they felt drained seeing them, uncomfortable or worried
During this stage, your child may instead bring up examples of what it’s like when they see that person.
To help your child with a deeper reflection, it can help to ask, ‘how did that experience make you feel?’
5 – The last part is to ask how your child felt when they left that person.
Did they feel relieved that it was over? Perhaps they felt inspired and enthusiastic?
Overall was the experience positive or negative?
With this exercise, you have a fantastic chance to support your child and help them to become more self-aware about the influences that may be impacting their life.
These discussions are not meant to be a chance to prove your point that a friend is a bad influence.
Instead, it is a chance to create a safe space where your child can reflect on who they spend time with and what impact that has on them.
This exercise may not provide instant clarity for your child.
However, it may mean that over time they’ll become more aware of the emotions, feelings and behaviours they have when they’re around different people.
They may start to see strengths in their different friends.
They may also focus on spending more time with the people that make them happy and less time with the people who cause negative emotions.
Helping Your Child With Positive Influences
Using this strategy is an excellent way to help your child understand more about what makes a good friend.
As well as looking for more positive influences in their own circle of friends, it can also help them to reflect on whether they are a positive influence on others too.
While determining what makes a good friend to them, they can also reflect on whether they are being a good friend to others.
It can be difficult or nerve-wracking to have these conversations with your child.
And that’s where Flourished Minds can help.
We have a huge amount of experience in facilitating these conversations and help children and teenagers to think differently about their friends and influences
If you’re not sure where to start or need more support, then please get in touch, and we’d be more than happy to help you with this process.