Every parent wants to raise their kids to be kind, compassionate, and decent human beings. However, this is not an easy task. As they grow up, your kids will encounter various people with different sets of values. They may be a good role model or have a negative influence on your children, but you can’t know for sure when you meet them the first time.
So, how can you tell if your kid’s friends will encourage them to do well in school or teach them to engage in destructive behaviors? You need to keenly observe their behavior when they interact with you and your kid. Also, pay close attention to your kid’s behavior and check for any notable changes. This may be a clear indication of the kind of influence their friend has on them. While you do that, here are some ways to recognize if your kid’s friend has a bad influence on them.
- You notice negative changes in your kid’s behavior. When your kid starts acting like someone else, they may be imitating the behavior of the people surrounding them. If their circle of friends presents a negative attitude, it will likely rub off on them.
- Your kid is afraid of their friend. If you notice that your child seems to be afraid to disappoint or disagree with their friend, this is something to be concerned about. They may not know it but your kid may be a victim of bullying.
- Their friends are rule-breakers. This doesn’t just apply to school rules, but also when it comes to your rules as a parent. Although part of growing up is disagreeing and challenging certain rules, your kid’s friend refusal to respect any of the rules you set may be a clear indication they are not a positive role model. If this is the case, you may need to reach out to the parents and let them know your concern. They may not be aware of how their child is behaving outside of their home. When you do this, avoid making judgmental statements or offering unsolicited advice.
- Their friend often takes risks. Kids tend to take more risks together rather than alone because the experience feels more rewarding when being with friends. When you add kids’ inability to make good choices or control their impulses, it may not end up well for any of them. Since risk-taking behavior is contagious, kids are prone to act a certain way due to peer pressure and it may have severe consequences. It’s best to intervene as early as you can before they get into activities that pose serious risks to their health, like drinking alcohol or using addictive substances. When kids experiment with illicit substances, they may develop an addiction to them. If you start noticing signs of alcohol or drug use, consult your physician immediately. They may refer your kid to talk to a therapist in a nearby treatment facility or to go to a Dallas drug rehab center for proper help. Depending on your kid’s condition, they may need support to wean off substance usage safely or undergo a comprehensive treatment program.
Protecting Your Kid
Once you’ve recognized how your kid’s social interactions are causing negative changes in their behavior, you need to address it immediately. However, their friendships can be a touchy subject to discuss. To ensure you protect your kids from friends with bad influences, here are some tips.
- Keep the communication lines open. The best way to handle this kind of situation is by talking to your child honestly and openly. Let them know about your concerns about their friend and allow them to share their inputs. Remember to be calm during the conversation and listen to them intently. Keep the focus on their feelings, their beliefs, and their decisions on being friends with a particular person. Ask them how their friend is influencing them and how they feel about it. Make sure to share your input as well. Keep in mind that you are an important influence on their lives.
- Avoid criticizing their friends. Your initial reaction may be to criticize your kid’s friend and tell your kid how they are a bad influence. But this won’t be effective and may cause your child to get defensive. Instead, cite clear examples of bad or disrespectful behavior. For example, you can say, “I don’t like how she talks back to me and other adults.” By using observable data, the discussion remains objective and prevents your kid from feeling that you disapprove of their choice of friends without just cause.
- Set limits and boundaries. You need to remember that as a parent, you can set limits and boundaries. Let them know that these limits are aligned to the values you want them to have as they grow up. Often, kids will see these rules as a way to hinder them and don’t realize their importance. If you know your child’s friend is engaging in behavior you don’t agree with then set a limit on how much time your child can interact with them.
When it comes to protecting your child from peers with bad influence, the tasks of a parent can become more challenging. These are just some ways to help you address the situation effectively but it ultimately requires for parents to stay aware of who their kids are with.
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