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What to do to keep your child from falling into bad company

Your child is moving with the wrong crowd, he has picked the wrong type of friends. What do you do to stop the bad influence of wrong friends on your child? How do you teach your child to behave responsibly and choose his friends wisely?

Parents have a keen sense of observation and can tell when their kids are moving with the wrong company. Behavioural changes, falling grades and complaints from the school etc., are certain indications. Speak to parents whose child gets into trouble and they'll pass the blame on the company the child keeps. They attribute their child's poor grades and bad behaviour to the influence of bad company.

Well, that is partially true; there is also the fact that the child hangs out with the so-called 'bad company' because he is like them. The other parents must refer to him as the bad effect on their kids.

Understanding adolescent behaviour

It is a bit of an irony, really, that the parents' purpose is to ensure their child's safe and protected, away from harm's way. On the other hand, the child likes to hang around others like him. For the child, it's like a meeting of minds. Adolescents go through this phase where they feel the need to be accepted and belong to a group. That is why kids at this age are so similar – they listen to the same music, dress alike and use the same lingo and behave in ways that parents and society find atrocious.

Parents need to realise that they cannot influence their child and decide who he remains friends with. In their teens, children are fiercely independent when it comes to choosing friends, and will react strongly, if parents object to the friendships they keep. This is normal, as it is part of a developmental stage, a part of growing up. Children choose to be part of a certain peer group and get offended when their choices are questioned.

In the adolescent years, children find solace among their peer group. It is a difficult time, between childhood and adulthood. They are seeking independence, but are still tied to their parents' apron strings. At the same time, parents think it is time for the child to set goals and give life a direction. There is too much for the child to handle, that leads him to believe that the parents do not understand him, and his peers become his favourite people.

Criticism of their choice of friends fails to work. They'll probably defy you and continue their friendship. They don't see your reactions from your perspective, to them, they are being judged. They think that you find them incompetent and need to be lead by the hand. Your teen is on the threshold of adulthood and carving his identity, through his choices. You cannot tell him his friends are not good enough because that would mean that you put a question mark on his abilities. Your accusations on an aspect of his life is a hit at his self-esteem.

As a parent, be prudent and confront the situation with tack. You cannot make your child, not like his friends, but here is what you can do –

No repeated criticism of friends

Adolescents are at a stage of their life when they start to come out of your protective shield to become their own person. They begin to make independent decisions, and choosing friends is one of them. They 'think' they are old and wise enough, to make good choices.

Your repeated inference about their bad choice of friends will not go down too well with them. They will defend their friends, while in reality, they will be defending their choices. You cannot deride their choice of friends and hope to have a conversation in this regard or expect them to drop their friends at your behest. It is not going to happen. They'll see your stance as criticism, and it'll damage their confidence. They'll end up distancing themselves from you.

Make straightforward comments about conduct

When you know your child's friends spell trouble the most remedial action you can take is to make effective statements. Say things like you don't approve of their behaviour and that you don't like him moving with badly behaved children, who get into trouble, because he could end up like them. But, you need to make it effective; so state facts.

Be precise about what you don't like about your child's friends. Don't judge them, instead show your displeasure. Rather than going on a tirade, about their friends, talk about the identifiable issues. You could say that you realise he likes being with his friends because they are cool and awesome. Infer to the things that make them 'cool and awesome'. They smoke, bunk classes, cheat, misbehave with teachers, eve tease, steal, neglect studies etc.

These and other such habits are perceptible. When you bring them into the conversation your child will not be able to defend them. This allows you to get your child to view the situation from your perspective – as a reality. Once that is achieved, you can add that if he hangs out with them, he'll turn out to be their clones.

Tell your child that you don't like that his friends neglect their studies or whatever wrongs that they do and add that you do not want him to be doing the same. It's not right, and that you are sure, he knows that too.

Phase of denial

Your child will disagree with you, and will probably argue that he cannot be influenced and that he knows good from bad. This is when you ask him if he recognises his friends' behaviour as unacceptable, and if yes, why he associates himself with them.

Keep your observations simple and direct. And keep in mind that you are having a conversation – encourage dialogue, instead of carrying on with a monologue. The conversation should strike a chord. The realisation that the company they keep is bad, should come to the child, and not be forced upon. Don't expect an instant change. Friendships ties cannot be snapped just like that. Give it time, and continue with the conversations.

Structure and discipline

Your minor child is your sole responsibility and it is fine to set rules and discipline the child. Their wrong actions should have consequences and that is the key to discipline.

You can stop your child from going out with his friends. Take control of his affairs – control where he goes, whom he meets and what he does. You need to get tough when things get out of hand. So, if your child says he is going to a friend's place to study and you discover that he actually went out for a movie with the 'bad' friends then you must take disciplinary action. There must be consequences for breaking your trust.

Impose restrictions

Adolescents can be very defiant, and when nothing else works, setting limits does. When you notice the behaviour of your child's friends is not in sync with your values, then it's alright to impose restrictions on your child. You decide whether your child can mix with them or not and if he can, when and for how long.

Be firm in your decision and tell your child that his friends mean bad business and you will not let him associate with them. The child will retaliate and even defy you, but you stick to your ground, lay down rules and expectations and let him know that there will be consequences if the same are not followed. You have got to be firm and discipline him appropriately.

Make the punishment effective, Don't pay for that school trip, as punishment.

There are no 'rights'

Rights are a privilege and not an entitlement. Your teen might feel that he can decide what goes on in his life. Well, you've got to step in and let him know that is not how it works, not as long as you are paying for his expenses. As long as he lives under your roof, he does what you think is right for him. Get that message out loud and clear.

To turn rights to entitlement your child will need to learn to behave responsibly.

Set conditions, tell your child that he can go out provided he gains your trust. And responsible behaviour is about choosing who he becomes friends with. Mingling with someone who smokes or engages in substance abuse is not a sign of responsible behaviour.

Also, weekends don't naturally mean that the child can go out with his friends. He should have his plans approved by you because you could have a family event planned. And you allow this only if he shows maturity and behaves responsibly. His privileges should be earned through trust, they should not come as an entitlement.

Have meaningful conversations

Conversations should not be centred around diktats. Have meaningful conversations with your child. Show him the right direction and let him walk the path on his own.

Talk to him about drug and substance abuse. Speak to him about promiscuity. Discuss sexual abuse and women empowerment and respect for women. Talk to him about values and the goodness of virtues. You sow in your child the seed of righteousness, and when it's time to make decisions your child will know the right thing to do.

Final word

Children will make mistakes, it is part of the lessons of life. Stand firmly by them; shower them with love and understanding, but also be strict when you have to. Too much pampering is not good for them. It is your job to guide and shape them. Do it, without scaring them psychologically – and by this, I mean, no corporal punishment and no shaming or abusing. Use smart tactics to discipline your child. You are surely smart enough to do that.

What are your parenting techniques for handling bad company? How do you teach your child to choose friends wisely? How do you wean them off bad company?

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

Follow Juana or read 609 articles authored by Juana


Author: Reena Upadhya21 Sep 2018 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 7

Toxic friends or bad company is the commonly faced problem. Speak about it to any parent. Most of them will reply that they aren't very happy with the kind of company their son or daughter prefers. At the same time, kids enjoy being with their chosen friends. They don't feel anything wrong with the company they choose. At an adolescent age, they go out of their way and make strong decisions. Thus, they do not appreciate when parents try to interfere with the decisions they make. Say a word against their friends and they will turn against you. What does a bad company in a true sense mean? Bad company is something that we refer to a company that hinders the progress. When progress is retarded it only gives way to disharmonious thoughts in the mind. These thoughts can easily be lighted up using various ways such as drug addiction, alcohol addiction, crimes, theft, and many such things.

It is obvious that parents become anxious regarding their kid's safety. However, they have to understand that some things can be taught and some cannot. Author has given nice tips that can be practiced that will help the kids to keep away from the bad company. In case if the parents have adopted everything and still nothing is working, let the child discover his or her own way. At some point or the other, they will learn from their experiences. Do remember that certain kids do not like too much interference. They learn better and become aware when they are left alone. Speak your heart out and take a step back. Let your kid make choices.

Author: Sheo Shankar Jha21 Sep 2018 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 6

To discipline a child during the adolescent stage sometimes seems to be baffling. However, there is a connection between the personality development of the child and the right guidance offered by the parents at different stages. If a better understanding between the child and the parents exists, the child will analyze the situation prior to taking up any decision including the right choice of friendship.

However, there are certain stages where ambiguity may develop in arriving at a right decision in case of selection of friends and a choice of wrong friendship may lead to a severe setback in the areas of their studies as also the manifestation of aggressive behavior among the children. In such an awkward situation, prudence in the behavior of the parents would be essential. In no stage, they should be critical. A brief and clear reply regarding the outcome of bad friendship has to be explained. Maybe, it may not work instantly but that seeding will definitely work if your child has excellent confidence in you.

The author has highlighted the different points diligently and the same should be applied to reap benefits.

Author: Natarajan22 Sep 2018 Member Level: Gold   Points : 8

An article relevant to present day parents. The harsh truth that we all, as parents, should accept are two facts-

1.The moment the child steps out of our eyesight or home we do not have any effective restriction on whom they meet or interact with. This can be in the school/college campus, on the route of regular travel, in and around the popular hangouts etc.
2. The more alarming fact is that even within the four walls of their own room children can be influenced by their friends and peers via social media, mobiles and the internet.

Although scary, I think once we accept this, we would be more inclined to spend quality time understanding them and their needs rather than always imposing strict disciplinary rules (that often fails).

As parents we should look back at how we were, our desire to hang out with the school or neighborhood gang, going on cycling trips, escaping to watch movies etc. When we consider this and accept the changes that have happened over the years, we would learn to accept that barring a few interactions, most of it is what adolescent and school/college life is about. As parents, we should learn when to be loving and jovial and when to draw the line and be firm with the 'home rules'. For this, teaching what is right and what is wrong at an early age helps.

Educating children about the potential dangers of falling into bad company and keeping channels of communication open both ways are useful.

Author: Umesh23 Sep 2018 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 6

A marvelous article by the author and will be very helpful for the parents searching for ways to control their children not to fall prey to bad company.

Bad company is a disaster and will ruin the life of a child. Parents have the tremendous responsibility on this front and they have to take initiatives and pains to solve this challenge.

One of the most important things in this matter is that parents have to find the time and devote this time to children to keep them bonded. Even if they go to their friends, they should be preferably family friends. I know many parents who make friendship with the parents of the friends of their children. It is a good strategy.

The adolescent age is very prone to mistakes and blunders in one's life and it is the duty of the parents to see that their children are not out of their control and discipline.

The bad elements in society will lure the children for bad purposes and due to fear children will not tell it to their parents. This has been a common phenomenon in the developing world and many cases of child abuse are being reported.

So it is imperative that parents find and spend quality time with their children to engage them and protect from the evil side of the world.

Author: Juana11 Jun 2019 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 5

The biggest mistake that parents make is in judging their children wrongly. Most parents think that their child is innocent and can be misguided and influenced by others. Parents turn a blind eye to their child's follies and blame other children for being a bad influence.

Parents need to know that their child is equally at fault, for being attracted towards wrong influences. The other parents will perhaps be blaming their child for corrupting other children. Parents wear rose coloured glasses when it comes to their children.

I'll cite an example, a friend disclosed that they were called to their child's school because their child had been caught with a cheat slip in his shirt pocket during an exam. She claimed her child was innocent because he said that a school ‘bhaiya' (watchman) had forcibly placed the chit in his pocket when he went to the bathroom.

She never questioned why a watchman would do that? Parents blindly trust their children, ignore the obvious and live to regret their decisions.

Author: Varghese11 Jun 2019 Member Level: Gold   Points : 5

Some points that I would like to add:
1. As parents, we need to understand our children and should show faith and respect for them. Nowadays, youth wants privacy, freedom and money.
2. Parents need to give time to their children, have conversation about everything that is going on in today's world.
3. Learn to be more open to your children, treat them as a friend but always keep a one hand distance.
4. Be prepared to say "NO" to the things that needs is not required.
5. Never compare your children with others.
6. Never substitute your presence with money or else they will search for comfort in others or things.
7. Be a good listener, guide & motivator to your children.
8. Always keep an eye on them, inside and outside your home.
9. Love them unconditionally, this will keep them warm and help them feel that they are wanted.

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