If your child has a friend or group of friends that you do not approve of, it is difficult to manage as a parent. The proper balance must be struck early on by really getting to know your child's friends and what the pair or group is doing.

If after you have seen the goings-on of a group, you still have some concerns, you need to approach the matter with your child. Be careful so your child won't feel the need to rebel further and to become more deeply involved with that particular group of friends.

Some traits of bad friends include:

  • the group getting into trouble

  • the friends being mean

  • the friends being selfish

  • the friends being negative

  • the friends always controlling the situation

  • any sign that your child's friends may be involved in substance abuse, or other dangerous behavior

1. Walk the parental tight rope and be diplomatic

Before children enter high school, they are more likely to listen to your advice and take it to heart. Express your criticism as concern about your child and their happiness and satisfaction with a particular friend or group.

You seem to do what they like more than what you like. Does this concern you?

Whenever you are with Jocelyn, you get into trouble, why do you think that is?

2. Help your child widen their social circle

Make suggestions for activities that do not involve the friend. If your child has particular interests that are not being fully explored, this is a wonderful opportunity to explore them in a club, class, etc. Encourage your child to join Scouts or a youth group.

If your child is able to make connections with like-minded peers, they may abandon the friendship on their own.

3. Examine the motivation for the bad friend

By understanding the appeal of this particular friendship, you can determine what void it is filling in your child's life.

  • If they are seeking adventure and the thrill of a forbidden social circle, you can channel that need into another venue.

  • If they are trying to rebel, re-evaluate your discipline and expectations to see if you are giving them cause to rebel.

  • Working to improve your relationship with your child can help drastically in this case. Take time to express your genuine interest in what your child is doing and you may find that they drop the problem relationship on their own.

4. Give your child the benefit of the doubt

Your child is probably far more capable of handling situations than you think. If you have expressed your concerns about a particular friendship, and your child persists, they may come to their own conclusion that the relationship is not worthwhile.

Offer support, and they may come around to exclude that person from their life. This is part of the paradigm; give them the proper principles and let them handle it. They may just surprise you!

5. If all else fails, enlist outside help

Your child may need to speak to a school guidance counselor, trusted teacher, clergy member, or older relative if they are having trouble opening up to you. If so, don't take it personally, and help facilitate this communication. Having another perspective may be just what your child needs to help them make the changes that are necessary in the friendship.

Learning to form healthy friendships is an important part of growing up. When you don't agree with your child's choice of friends it is important to be diplomatic. You can be instrumental in helping them expand their social circles. Examine your child's motivation in choosing friends. Give them the opportunity to figure things out for themselves. If nothing else works, get help.

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