What to do when your child moves with the wrong crowd

Your child's friends have a significant influence on his behaviour. Their company could spell trouble. What can you do if your child is moving with the wrong crowd? How do you get your child back on track? The answer lies in prevention. Discover what experts say about the parent's role under these circumstances.

Raising children in today's time is much more complicated than it ever was for the past generation of parents. The challenges are different. The internet and smart devices have shrunk the world. The children of today have access to stuff that was unheard of fifty years back.

Back answering, bunking school, not studying and getting poor grades seem passé, when you compare them to the threats of smoking, alcohol, drugs and illicit sex and worse. Parents today have to put in extra effort to ensure that their child turns out well.

Despite doing everything right, children do go wrong. A parent's worst nightmare begins with their child falling into bad company. And it does happen, we hear and read of cases happening all around us. What should parents do when their child goes astray?

Why does a child fall into bad company?

Why a child gravitates towards the wrong choice of friends cannot be ascertained. However, there are tell-tale signs that signal the worst. A child with behavioural problems is more likely to become attracted to others with the same inclination. They find a kinship in the pattern of behaviour, and it mutually attracts.

A child who is disinterested in studies doesn't do his homework, gets poor grades, bunks classes, is rebellious and bad-mouthed is more likely to associate with a group that exhibits similar qualities. The child's behaviour gets him into trouble with the parents and teachers, but his group of friends accept him for what he is. They don't judge him for his poor grades, they don't hold him accountable, and he finds comfort and acceptance in that.

Imitates bad behaviour

Being part of a peer group that's on the wrong track and doing things that are prohibited becomes extremely satisfying. It is also a defining moment for the child, who seeks independence (though of the wrong kind). The group rewards the child's behaviour with acceptance, and that acts as a reinforcement that pushes him to try out more bad experiences.

Once a child sets foot into this circle, it turns out to be a vicious cycle that pushes him deeper into the chasm. To belong, the child starts imitating everything the others in the group do. Morals and values go to the dogs. It is like an initiation process where the child becomes involved in activities that you, as a parent, wouldn't approve. The child will begin bunking school, shoplifting, eve-teasing, damaging public property, being a bully and even start on cigarettes, alcohol and drugs.

Attraction is mutual

Most parents think of their child as innocent, and being spoilt by bad company. That's a mistake parents make. Be practical and look at the situation for what it is. If your child is moving in bad company, he is with them by his free will. He isn't trapped into the situation; he has joined it willingly.

Remove the rose-tinted glasses and face the facts. Your child chooses who to be friends with, and if his friends are drinking and partying, in all probability, your child is doing the same or wants to try those things. The other kids are not going to hang out with a goody two shoes. Your child is with them because he has the same traits as them; he is polishing them and getting better (read worse).

If your child is moving around with the notorious gang, be aware that he is one of them. He is doing the same things that they are doing, even if he keeps denying them. There would be no other reason for him to be friends with children who are doing things that you won't allow.

Children deny it

A child will deny being part of what the other children do. He will tell you that they drink, but not when he is with them. Well, your child is not their guardian angel. The child is lying, and the parent must know that.

Some parents counsel their child, telling them that they know everyone is doing it, but they trust their child and know that they won't do those things. It's like asking the child to stand in a surging river and expecting him not to drown. Of course, he's going to drown.

The rules must be clearly defined, make no bones about it. Your house your standards, be upfront about it and set the values you want your child to follow, in black and white. Don't tell him it's okay if others are doing something. It's not fine. Stress on the expectations that you have from him. No drugs, no alcohol, no matter what.

Reality check

A child dependent on his parents, for all his needs, is not in a position to make choices about stuff like substance abuse. As long as you are supporting him financially, you control what he does. Drugs are scary, and parents battling with the menace know how frightening and difficult it is.

Drugs give a temporary high, they remove pain, stress and anxieties, but they have an everlasting impact. They destroy not just the addict but also ruin his family. A child who begins using drugs soon becomes dependent on them; he turns into an addict. His addiction turns him into a criminal; he starts robbing to get money to pay for his addiction. Things can take an ugly turn when he needs more cash – kidnapping and murder can also happen. I am not writing all this to scare you; these things have happened. My advice to you is to nip untoward behaviour, in the bud, to avoid regrets later.

Teenage years are the most testing years, and it is the age when a child can aggressively demand independence. This is also the age when the child must hone life's skills, especially those revolving around problem-solving. Alcohol, drugs and other mischief is not the answer to life's problems. The child has to learn to make healthy choices so he can step into adulthood a confident individual.

Substance abuse inhibits the child's development, and hampers the milestones that the child must reach, before stepping into adulthood, are missed. Therefore, parents must be vigilant and adopt different tactics to enforce discipline in their child. Show the child that you are in charge, say no when you have to. It is about being firm and setting rules. Take away privileges that is one of the best forms of punishment. And guard your child as you would your precious stones.

Be vigilant

I cannot stress enough on the need to know what is going on in your child's life. Know who your child's friends are. Know where he spends his time. Know the family of his friends. Know what he is watching on the internet. Take notice when you see behavioural changes.

Parents must put structured and supervised parenting practices into place, where discipline is paramount. Set restrictions and regulate the child's time. It sounds like control, and it is a form of power, but you have to take these steps keeping the child's welfare in mind.

Why do teens rebel

Adolescence is an age where the metamorphosis begins. You'll notice physical and behavioural changes, and this is normal to some extent. The child will become moody, more independent, a little rebellious and have an opinion about everything. Allow the child the space to develop, don't curb the growth. Your child will find friends with whom he identifies, keep communication open, so you can always speak and discuss issues that bother you. Your child will exhibit a weird fashion sense, listen to weird music, do weird things, it's a phase, accept it. You don't have to control what is normal in this age, but yes, you need to be on your guard against bad behaviour.

Experts describe adolescence as the rebellious age; so, does that make it healthy? Yes, it does. Teenage years is the period when the child begins to demonstrate his identity, and there is a sharp shift in his personality. The child steps out of the shadow of his parents and becomes an individual. Such behaviour is a normal phenomenon. Parents find it challenging to come to terms with it, but they must allow their child to bloom.

Here are the sum and the substance; your child will not always do what you expect of him. He will make mistakes; he will stumble, and he will tell lies. Most often, these act as learning experiences. On your part, you must look at things objectively, advise and mentor your child and set boundaries of what he can and cannot do. Let him know your perspective of the right things to do. Let him know that there will be consequences for every broken rule. Most importantly, communicate and love unconditionally, even through rough times.


Author: Umesh09 Jul 2019 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 8

Children are easy to be lured by their classmates or senior students in the school. It is the tender age when one can be tempted for things providing a little thrill or something new. They find a different environment in the school or outside the school and sometimes take sides with the outside world and condemn the discipline and order expected in the house. When they start growing they adopt trends and fashions from their companions and many times declare themselves as the free soul not bound by any religion, culture or mannerism. They feel proud in doing so. This is really a serious state and that time it becomes difficult for the parents to bring them back to the normal stage. Parents are also busy in their career planning and socialising and many times neglect this important area and repent on their ways only when they find that the children are totally out of control and reach for them. It is imperative that parent should be vigilant from day one in these matters and try to engage the children with themselves and has more time together may be in form of family picnics or outings or things like that. The more they will be tied up with the parents, the less will be their chances for outside exposure to evil things. When they finally grow up to the extent of distinguishing between good and bad then only they should be set free to sail in the struggle of life and making their career in a job or other occupation.

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