Dealing with your Child’s Choice of Friends

It is likely that at some stage of your child’s life, they will have friends that you really don?t approve of. While your instinct might be to forbid your child to spend time with those you feel might be a bad influence on your son or daughter, doing so can make the problem even worse. Many children feel keenly about the injustice of being separated from a friend, and it can make them see you as the enemy and the friendship as something forbidden and exciting. The result? Your child becomes even more determined to spend time with the friend you dislike. Before you forbid your child from spending time with another child, think about the following points;

FriendsWhat is your Objection?

If you are biased against the child because of something the child has no control over such as the family they come from or the place they live, then you are being unfair. Give the child a chance and get to know them before judging them.

However, if your objection is due to the behaviour, language or attitude of the friend, then it is much more valid.

Deal with Unwanted Behaviour in your Child’s Friend

Rather than banning the child from your home, make it so that the time your child spends with this friend is in your home or under your supervision. Use the same discipline techniques you use for your own child whenever there is any unwanted behaviour. This way, your son or daughter sees their friend’s unwanted behaviour and at the same time, the friend gains an understanding of what is acceptable in your home.

What about Outside the Home?

The only thing you can do to protect your child from any negative influences of other children is to teach them clearly about what you find acceptable and otherwise. It is even more important that you teach them to stand up for themselves and not be led by other children. Peer pressure affects children of all ages! Encourage them to tell you about anything they aren?t happy with or are unsure of ? if you have banned contact with any other children, this will be impossible for your child, so bear that in mind too!

When to Force the Issue?

Sometimes, you have no choice but to be brutally honest with your child about another child. If the child crosses a line and you feel that you have no option but to stop your child from spending time with them then explain that you are worried about the way they behave. Be careful not to give your child any reason at all to feel like they have done anything wrong, the feeling should be that you are on your child’s side, not that they are in league with their friend and that you are angry or disappointed with them.

We don?t always approve of our children’s choices, and freedom to choose friends is important. The key is to ensure your child understands what is right, what is wrong and what you expect from them. Letting them make their own choices is a valuable learning experience, just be sure to monitor the situation closely to step in if needed.