“How can I get my son to stop hanging out with a little boy who isn’t a good influence? My son started being disrespectful and has caught a lot of bad language. We never use inappropriate language or say inappropriate jokes, but this boy does and now our son is saying. This child always yells at his parents and I have even heard him swear. They are in the same class at school and we live in the same neighborhood, so they do spend a lot of time together.”
We talked with parents, parenting experts and child therapists to come up with some practical, doable actions that you can take to help your child.
What to Do When Your Child’s friend is Not a Good Influence:
“I never tell my kids who they can play with or not play with, because if our child is being disrespectful, it is his choice. The other kid didn’t force him. If we blame their friends for their behaviors it takes the responsibility away from our children. I share concerns and give them consequences for THEIR behavior.” ~Casie Siggers
“My son had a friend whose mother went by the “boys will be boys theory.” We do not. They were throwing food in the cafeteria at school. His mother said boys will be boys, and mine got in trouble. I sent a note into the school that if he threw food again, he was to clean the entire cafeteria. If they needed me go to supervise that, I would do so. He may have never done it before and the friend may have started it but he was responsible for his own choices and suffered the consequences. Children need to learn that just because a friend is doing something doesn’t mean they have to go along. This is how you teach the child to be an individual and follow their own path. Soon, they will learn that not everyone will be a good friend.” ~Rebecca Chauvin
“Try involving the other child in your family life. He may be unaware his behaviour is not the norm. If he sees correct behaviour and learns the rules at your house and is rewarded for correct behaviour with you, he may use correct behaviour more often.” ~Celia Fox
“Reinforce your rules at home and that those other actions will NOT be tolerated and what the consequences will be if your child chooses to not follow your rules! Teach your child to stand up to his negative friends and teach them the appropriate way to treat their parents and others!” ~Tiah Estabrook
“Our son knows that he has to make “good choices” and when he knows that people are making the wrong choices – whether it is funny or whatever – that he should just walk away. We have told him that friends like that are not really good friends to have. It is important to talk to your children and tell them that bad behaviour, language and jokes that hurt other people or are inappropriate are not tolerated at home. Sometimes I also pull the “what if someone said that to Mum” routine and “How would you feel if someone did/said that to you?”. You have to do what works.” ~Tracy Blackberry
“Teach your kids to be the influence on him. Teach them to say that talking back to your Mom is not okay. Lying is not okay. Tell him to say that if they are going to continue to be friends, he has to follow the rules around you & your family. The kid will either pull up his boot straps or not want to hang out with your kid. It can be hard to do, so I stayed there with my daughter and her friend. When her friend was misbehaving, I taught my daughter what to say. I’d say to my daughter, “Do you like it when, so and so does that? No? Then maybe you should say you don’t like that and you want to be respected. “.
I would also model lovingly to the child how we deserved to be treated and how we behaved in our house (example: instead of demanding a snack, if you could ask for one, I would be happy to give you one.)” ~Sandy M.
Remember that in the end, you are the parent. You have the power to continue the friendship or stop it (switch classes at school, stop playdates, etc…). If you are able to help your child and the friend, that would be such a positive experience for both people. Sometimes, however, you simply can’t get through to someone and it would be better to distance your child friend the friend. Whatever you decide, know that your child will be better of because of your decision.