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Is Your Child's Friend a Bad Influence?


One of the main ways children learn is by imitating those around them. That's why it's important that they are surrounded by people who are good influences. Even young kids ages four to six can learn some not-so-great habits from being around others their age who aren't well-behaved. What should you do if your child's friends are bad influences? Read on.

What makes a child a bad influence?

It's much easier to tell if a teenage friend is a bad influence because they may encourage your child to smoke, skip school or sneak out. During the formative years, behavior that is considered less than stellar is quite a bit different. Kids who don't share, get physically violent when they're mad or don't listen may be examples of so-called bad influences at a young age. When your child is around friends who talk back to the teacher or are mean to peers on the playground, he or she may follow these examples.

two young brothers walking together from school

What do to if your child is friends with one

One of the ways to help your child understand why his or her friend isn't a good influence is to explain what it is about him or her that is problematic. For example, if the friend refuses to follow directions in school, you can tell your child that this behavior isn't acceptable. Explain that doing what the teacher asks is necessary to earn good grades. Kids often repeat what they hear, so make sure that you are comfortable with anything you tell your child being said outside of the home. The next time your kid sees this problematic friend, he or she may repeat what you said about the kid, so be sure that's OK with you.

"Encourage your child to find other friends."

Encourage your child to find other friends. You can set limits on spending time with the bad influence friend by telling your child to have that friend over. You will have a better view of the child's behavior when he or she is at your home. Instill house rules that everyone in your home must follow. This way you can enforce the rules you feel are important both inside and outside of the home. Both your son or daughter and his or her friend are subject to punishment for not following your regulations, so you may actually help the friend learn better manners. 

If the friend is truly changing the way your child behaves, consider cutting off contact. Tell your child that he or she shouldn't speak to the friend, and don't let the child come over to play anymore. You can't change how their friendship goes at school, but you can reduce the amount of time they spend together outside of class hours.

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