We can’t choose our family but we can choose our friends…and your kids are going to choose their friends. As a parent this can be a worry as you may feel that certain friends can be a negative influence on your child. So how do you deal with this in a positive way?
Do we let our kids pick their own friends or do we have any right to interfere?
- The best thing you can do is get to know your kids friends. Allow your kids to invite them over to your house and take an interest in getting to know them. You will be amazed at how, when they get to know you on a personal level, will help to influence their actions when it comes to your child and the influence they may try to assert over your child.
- There are actually quite a number of levels to dealing with this and a lot will depend on your child’s age. As a younger child, sometimes you might have to say that they cannot play with a certain child as you have concerns but how you deal with this is very important.
- If you are to just say, “That’s it, you can’t play with them, because we say so”, will most likely just cause confusion within your child. There may be a valid reason, and one that might not be appropriate for your child to know about, but they do need an explanation. The reason for this is that they can begin to think that there is something wrong with their friend or even something wrong with them.
- Try and get to know the parents of your children’s friends, even just on a first name basis. This will make any potential issues that may arise, easier to deal with in a positive manner.
- As your kids get older, this can become a lot more difficult to control or impact upon. They will choose their friends based on a shared interest or shared acquaintances. Much of how they deal with situations involving friends will come down to how they view themselves and how they should be treated.
- By teaching our children to respect themselves and respect others, you are increasing the chances that they will, for the most part, make the right choices. Of course they will make mistakes but that’s when, as parents, we have to be there for them.
- You may get to a point where you have to approach the parent of a friend and have a frank discussion about how, negatively, both your children are influencing each other. This is not an easy discussion to have and emphasises the importance of knowing their parents. You may be met with a negative response and be ready to keep your cool with this.
- If your child continues to hang out with an extremely negative influence (someone who maybe is getting them into trouble), you may need to take more drastic actions like severe consequences.
- And then, the hardest one of all, allow natural consequences kick in. If your child is choosing to get into trouble, whether they are being influenced by others or not, then they have to deal with the outcome of that. You can be there for them to support them but they need to deal with the outcomes of their actions.
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