The following is a look at what to do when you don’t like your kid’s friends:
Recognize that forbidding friends can backfire on you:
Kids have a tendency to do exactly the opposite of what you want them to do. So, if you want your child to stop hanging out with a specific person, do not forbid it. This will make them cling to that friend. In some cases you can use this approach, but it must be handled with care, otherwise it is almost a challenge to your child to prove you wrong that they can have friends that you disapprove of.
Get your child more involved with groups of kids you do approve of:
Because you can’t control who your child has a tendency to lean toward when it comes to friends, and you can’t pick their friends for them, it is important that you make it easy to choose appropriate friends. Often getting your child involved with a group, such as a religious youth group, a sports team, or a music group of some kind can help them to choose friends that are more appropriate. Often the kids you do not approve of are those not as involved. So, if you want your child to meet other religious kids, then have them attend a youth group. If you want your child to associate with down to earth kids who know how to work, then consider enrolling your child in 4-H, and so on.
Influence and encourage appropriate behavior:
No matter who your child’s friends are, it is still up to them to decide how to behave. So, teach your child core values that they will cling to, and not be so easily swayed from. Then, when you see them moving down wrong paths, be encouraging of good paths. For example, if you hear your daughter comment inappropriately about another girl, then ask her a question like, “Would you want someone talking about you that way?” If you see your child getting lazy, consider asking them, “Are you working hard, or hardly working?” While your child’s friends can influence them for bad, you too can influence them, so make it for good.
Have them hang out at your house:
If you really dislike one of their friends, or are worried about how they are influencing your child, then be sure to monitor the behavior. How? The easiest, and least intrusive way to monitor the friends you do not like when they interact with your child is to ensure that interaction is happening at your house. Make your home somewhere they will want to hang out so that you can monitor behavior and control negative behaviors.
Set rules and criticize behaviors not people:
Give your child rules. For example, if you notice one of your child’s friends is encouraging them to be gossipy, set a rule about gossip in your home. If you notice your child is speaking unkindly about people, set rules about judging others, etc. Instead of criticizing your child’s friend to your child, criticize the behavior your child is exhibiting when they hang out with that friend.