It's a parent's worse nightmare to find out that their child is hanging with a tough crowd. Kids tend to get into trouble when they're having issues at home, are finding themselves, or are having trouble in school. Unfortunately, your child can get sucked into their troublesome habits by association.
What's a parent to do when they don't like the friends their child/teen has chosen? Are we supposed to ban them from spending time with said friends? Are we supposed to give them a pep-talk about boundaries and let them run wild? It's tough to say, but we have 10 tips to parents to follow when they think their kiddo is picking bad friends for their circle.
A parent may think they know who their kids' friends are, but kids come and go like the wind. They find new neighbors to hang out with, different activities they're interested in... just because two kids were inseparable in elementary school, doesn't mean it'll be the same way through middle and high school.
So, if your child is slowly showing interest in other things and saying things out of character, take a deeper look into the people they're surrounding themselves with. Heck, tell them to invite some friends over for snacks and games to see what kind of people they are.
If you notice new names coming out of your child's mouth, ask them more about their new buddies. Where are they from? What do they do for fun? How did the meet? If they have common goals and interests, that can be inspiring for anyone.
If they say "John Smith does crazy things and it's funny to watch," that could be a small red flag. Ask them what kinds of crazy things John does and if they follow the same things John does. It's also fascinating to find out why your child likes hanging out with people in the first place.
This entry may get a few disagreements from parents, but hear us out. You don't need to criticize your child for making poor decisions in terms of friends, or saying you strongly dislike their friends without reason. What you can do, however, is explain the situation from your side.
Instead of saying "I don't like them," try saying "I didn't like how XYZ treated you today" or "I didn't appreciate XYZ bossing you around." Giving your reasons may open your child's eyes, helping them see their friend in a different light.
Here's a lesson not many people teach, but it's incredibly important for kids to learn at a young age. We all have a conscious and a gut feeling that we listen to. As a child or teen, they may know it's there, but not take the time to listen to it. Let them know their body is sending little warnings for a reason.
It's a good thing to be independent and not follow the herd. If their friends are doing some silly things and their gut feeling tells them not to join in, they should follow it! There's no need to be friends with a person who doesn't have their best interest at heart.
Controlling a child or teen's environment isn't always the smartest move, but it's worth a try. Kids can sense when their parents are controlling them or forcing them to stay away from their so-called "friends." It's all about the approach you take.
If your child wants to hang out with those friends you're not a fan of, invite them over to your house. Under one roof, parents can keep an eye on these kids and what they actually do for fun.
Not knowing what the other person wants brings a strong disconnect for many. When kids and parents don't know what the other expects, misfortune can strike. As a parent, your child needs to know that you only want what's best for them and what you expect from them inside and outside fo your house.
Make your rules decisive and clear; having clear expectations will help your child stay in line when they're not in your sight.
In a similar fashion to Romeo and Juliet, if mom or dad forbids their child from seeing their naughty friend, they're only going to want to see them more. The urge to defy their parents and seek independence will be strong, so telling them to never speak or see their friend again can backfire in a big way.
As stated above, let your child know what you expect from them and what's considered appropriate behavior when out with buddies.
Now, this method may upset some parents, but others say it works like a charm. Let's say your child consistently gets in trouble whenever they hang out with Sarah. Whether it's Sarah or your child doing the instigating, it's clear that the two of them do not have a good influence on each other.
To prove a point, some parents may tell their child or teen, "since you and Sarah got called to detention again, you're not allowed to hang out with Sarah all week." Hopefully, if they don't want to be grounded so often, they won't be hanging out with kids like Sarah anymore.
From detentions to late-night calls, if you notice your child getting into more and more trouble, it could be time to schedule a meeting with their teachers. Teachers see and know all. They see friendships, break-ups, they hear rumors... all of this can be a great help.
Schedule an appointment to see if they've noticed a change in your child's personality and ask who they surround themselves with. It would also be a nice chance to see how your child is actually doing in school and how they can improve.
If you're having a problem separating your child/teen from their problematic friend, then it's time to turn to activities. Joining clubs, going to camps, and trying out for sports teams is a great way to let out aggression, learn new things, and meet new people.
Those who play sports will meet like-minded individuals who need to accomplish the same goal as a team. Being active and social can inspire them in multiple ways, hopefully inching further and further away from bad influences.