A new Australian study provides another reminder for parents that their influence is primary in the lives of kids. It is true, particularly for early and middle-adolescent kids, that influence of peers does increase. But, this shouldn't convince parents that they matter less. Striving to maintain open communication and keeping relationships healthy are keys to keeping parental influence strong.
Parents and teachers who fear their good work instilling academic discipline and motivation is ruined by a child's peer group can take heart: new research shows they have more influence on young people than they think.
A University of Sydney study has found that getting on well with parents and teachers has a strong positive influence on adolescents' academic outcomes - and a bigger influence than getting on with peers. These findings provide new hope to parents and teachers who too often assume that they cannot compete with the power of the peer group.
"Parents and teachers who might feel powerless during adolescence have a bigger influence on academic motivation than they think - sometimes up to three times the impact of peers," said Andrew Martin, an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Education and Social Work and the study's lead researcher.
"If you think you have no impact, stick with it because you do, and not just in the early years - at all stages of secondary school teachers and parents have a significant impact." He also cautioned that the flipside of the research is that academic motivation suffers when a child does not get on well with teachers or parents. "The study clearly points to the importance of positive connections and quality relationships with teachers and parents in adolescents' lives."
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