It’s every parent’s nightmare. The bad kid who swears a lot, has questionable morals, a dubious Instagram account and a mean streak has decided to latch onto your child. At first, you think your level-headed child will tire of their new friend’s antics and move on. But suddenly they’re ‘best’ friends and you’re noticing changes in your child’s behavior and attitude that aren’t necessarily positive.
Don’t ban the bad kid from your good child
The truth is that once children hit adolescence they’re largely in charge of the friends they choose and, for many reasons, they don’t always choose wisely. Here, parenting experts explain what you can do when your child makes friends with kids you don’t like or trust. Don’t Ban the friendship
If a troublesome kid has your child in their grip, don’t panic and demand they end the friendship. “Adolescents will resent being told what to do, so you risk strengthening this bond rather than weakening it,” says child and adolescent psychologist Dr Emma Little.
Such a heavy-handed approach will also undermine your child’s confidence.
Do not direct your childs friendship
“Trying to direct your children’s friendships sends them the message that they’re not smart enough to make good choices,” explains clinical psychologist Sally-Anne McCormack.
When happen to Bad friends good kids more vulnerable to other bad friendships down the line.
Her advice? Get into the habit of asking questions. “Questions force your child to reflect or give you an answer,” she says.
For example, ‘What’s the deal with Georgina’s bossiness?’
Then use their response, ‘Actually, I don’t like the way she talks to me,’ as an opening to voice your concerns.
Don’t criticise the bad kid infront of your good child
While it can be tempting to slam your child’s friend, it’s best to bite your tongue. “You don’t want to give your child a reason to defend them,” says Little. “Instead, focus on the goodkids. A child who has other friendship options is more likely to ditch a bad friend. “Children with good self-esteem are also more capable of extricating themselves from a toxic friendship,” explains Little.
Invite the friend over
If a friend’s demeanour or exploits have you unnerved but your teen enthralled, try to get to the bottom of the attraction.
“Invite the friend over,” suggests McCormack. “Tell your teen, ‘I don’t really get why you like them, but if I get to know them better I might feel the same way’. You may not change your mind, but you’ll have enough insight to ask more questions and get more answers.”
It also pays to overlook their friend’s tattoo or bizarre dress sense. Good kids who care and ‘get’ your child doesn’t always come in perfect packages, but kids that don’t can often hide behind good manners.
“Remember, you influence their career choices, values and morals, while friends are more likely to influence their interests and appearance,” says Little.
Set the rules
It can be hard, but you should never compromise your family’s values for the sake of your child’s social life. “Lay down the law in line with your morals,” says McCormack, and have rules about things like unsupervised parties, even if that means your child has to sometimes miss out.
“If we want our teens to keep communicating with us, we can’t react badly when they tell us things about their friends that we don’t like,” says McCormack. “If your teen tells you his mates were drinking at the park and you jump in with, ‘Don’t you hang out with them anymore,’ then all you’re going to teach your teen is how to keep quiet or be sneaky.”
If your child does confide in you, take it as an opportunity to ‘skill them up’, she continues. “If they’re offered a drink or smoke, calmly ask, ‘How did you deal with that?’