As a parent, it can be frustrating to watch your kids fall in with a rough crowd. You want to keep your children safe, but they often don’t see the dangers of being around kids who engage in risky behaviors. Instead, they perceive their parents’ attempts to shield them as punishments for having fun.
So, how can you reach out to your kids and help them understand that you’re just trying to protect them?
It’s tempting to tell your kids that their friends are just bad news. You might feel like you could make them understand if you spell things out for them. However, this technique won’t work. When kids hear their parents criticize their friends, they tend to dig their heels in and defend their pals.
Instead of outright telling your kids that their buddies aren’t a good influence, wait for opportunities to point out specific examples of damaging behavior. For instance, you could mention how often the friend gets in trouble at school. If you cite particular incidents in which this conduct is harmful, your child is less likely to get defensive. Instead, they’ll probably see your advice as helpful and illustrative.
Most parents want their children to like them. However, sometimes, to protect your child’s safety, you need to take decisive action that they won’t appreciate. Setting limits on when and where your kids can meet with certain friends is occasionally a necessary step. Your child might resent you for this, but it’s better for them to be upset now than ruin their future over peer pressure.
Often, kids won’t realize you’ve helped them out until much later. In some cases, you might even provide a perfect excuse for them to avoid a risky situation. Maybe they were only joining a sketchy friend group because they felt social pressure to fit in. Your word can give them the perfect excuse to not join that group.
Speaking with your child openly and honestly is usually the best course of action. Young people are still people, and they appreciate whenever their parents are straightforward with them. You can lay out your concerns without needing to raise your voice or acting confrontational.
The best way to keep things productive is to focus on how your child feels. Ask them what they think about their friend. Is this person a good influence, or just someone their peers consider socially acceptable? By talking through things, you can reach common ground together. Understanding each other solves more problems than any argument could.