Call it pee-wee peer pressure if you like, but remember -- it's real!

Can a Bad Influence Affect a Child's Personality?

by Melissa Willets

You know that kid; the one who comes over for a play date and bosses your tot around, acts aggressively and seems like, well, a bad influence. But can this unsavory character actually change your sweetie into a sassy, mean-spirited problem child? According to, parents need to "recognize that at this age [your kiddo's] friends are not just playmates. They also actively influence his thinking and behavior." Don't despair, because there are things you can do to help your tot find pals who will please you.

The Right Direction

According to, "encouraging activities and friendships that develop [your tot's] strengths" will have a very positive effect on him. Steer your sweetheart towards pals who have similar qualities to him. You want to identify the kids who are nice, well behaved, well mannered and seem to share the same morals and values you encourage in your own child. Another way to foster positive friendships is to get your tyke involved with kiddos who share similar interests like soccer, ballet, gymnastics or karate.

Bad Influences

The Ask Dr.Sears website notes that "It's up to the parents to screen out those [friends] who pull down the child's character and encourage those that build." So, keep a close eye on your little one at playtime. If you notice that a certain friend seems to bring out the worst in your little one, avoid fostering that friendship. For instance, you invite a new little girl to your house, but she acts out, throws extreme temper tantrums when she doesn't get her way, and generally, she seems out of control. Then your little one starts acting a little testy. Perhaps it's time to find some new pals to play with.

Be Realistic

If your little princess attends preschool with a tot you have deemed to be a bad influence, it is probably an overreaction to switch schools. While you may not want to invite this particular child over for a play date, part of the preschool experience is about your kiddo learning to get along with different types of tots. What you can do, as notes is "Above all, show her by your own example how to cope peacefully with conflicts." Also be sure to talk with your tyke often about what happened at school and how she handled any troublesome incidents.

Damage Control

If a bad influence has affected your pewee's personality, it's time to go back to basics. Make sure your little one understands what you expect from him behavior wise and what is and isn't acceptable. Although notes that it is normal for preschoolers to challenge their parents, now's the time to lay down the law. Imagine how tough it will be to crack down on bad influences and behavior when your love bug is in high school! And as the Ask Dr. Sears website notes, "Children are too valuable to be left to chance."

About the Author

Melissa Willets has been writing about parenting, pregnancy and "all things mom" since 2009. She has contributed to many websites, including and

Photo Credits

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