So this is where it starts. Today was the first day that our daughter ever did anything remotely wrong at school since it started back in September. Now mind you she's not yet 5, so anything she would possibly do is way off on the 'minor' end of things. Turns out she said something slightly cross at someone and the teacher thought it such a break from character for her that it beared mentioning.
No big deal of course. But the bigger deal was that it was prefaced with something that maybe a lot of first time parents dread hearing: 'I think she might be a little too easily swayed by other's bad behaviour.'. After chatting about it with my daughter later on it turns out that she was copying what another slightly older new arrival in her class was doing and saying. Over the last week and a half, our daughter has regaled us with tales of this 'new' girl's penchant for getting in trouble. Y'know, rolling around on the floor, not listening to the teacher, even having to call her mom to pick her up on one occasion.
Ahh.. negative influences. Something you can't avoid, and something you thought might actually escape your dearest little darling. No such luck it seems.
I remember getting a report card back in 6th grade and being *deeply* offended that it contained a comment that read simply: "Richard has a tendency to keep up with the Jones's.". Upon getting that tidbit deciphered by my mom, I was hurt. It offended me that my teacher of all people did not think I could make good and bad decisions all on my own. You laugh, but it did offend me. My pride in making independent decisions for myself meant a lot to me. Perhaps my teacher was right at the time. I'm not sure. But hurt it did.
The question is now, how to foster and grow that independence in our daughter. The core idea of knowing right from wrong is critical. Making mistakes and bad decisions is part of life, but making them on your own is important.
I remember my mom saying a few years back that a little cheeky talk back is a good thing. It shows you've got the confidence to speak your mind and not blindly follow, letting someone else make the decisions for you. I agree except that it's key to develop that sense of balance where she knows when to listen and obey (like in a crowded parking lot) and when to forge out on her own.