Most of us adults would agree that people close to us have had and continue to have a major influence on the way we view and interact with others and our environment. It can be a powerful experience to simply reflect upon how we are influenced by others and who these individuals are. Whether they are people from our past or our present, as human beings we are wired for connection and wired to learn about ourselves and FROM others.
Older children and teens can gain meaning and insight from reflecting upon influences in their own lives as well. Simply starting this dialogue can lead to greater understanding and empowerment in the choice to either embrace this influence or recognize the capacity we have to build our own paths.
1. identify a behavior, attitude, problem solving method, etc to be explored further.
2. Write this down on a piece of paper or dry erase board allowing for the other side to represent the opposite of this behavior or attitude or simply to represent a different one than the original identified.
3. Ask the child or teen to identify who influences him or her and to list them in the two areas.
4. Allow the child or teen to use play dough to make shapes that represent the size of influence that person has in his or her life.
5. Allow the individual to share verbally both while creating this and afterwards.
6. Respect what they create and remember the incredible amount of vulnerability it must take to talk about this with someone.