What to Do if You Think Your Child’s Friend is a Bad Influence

It can be one of the biggest dilemmas many parents face—they want their child to be sociable and happy, but they can’t shake the feeling that one (or more) of their child’s friends is a bad influence. What this means can range from the fairly innocent (developing a bad attitude towards teachers, parents, and other authority figures) to the much more serious (shoplifting, or similar criminal activities). Here’s what to do if you’re convinced that one of your child’s friends is bad news. 

Talk to Your Child

It’s really important to go in with an open mind, as any sense of aggression will make your child stay silent. Express an interest in how they spend their time with this friend, and ask if you can drive them to or pick them up from an activity. If they seem panicked by the questions or this request, you may want to probe deeper. Try reminding your child that you’re there for them and want to help and that if anything serious is going on you won’t be angry. Remain calm and listen carefully to what they have to say. This may be enough in and of itself, or you may want to step things up to the next level: talking to the friend’s parents.

Talk With the Parents

If you do decide to talk with your child’s friend’s parents, be careful not to come across as accusing their child. For all you know, they may have the same impression of your child as you do of theirs. Express your concerns and ask how you can work together as parents to sort things out for your kids.

Talk to Your Child’s School

It can help to talk to professionals at your child’s school. They may have access to further professional help, such as counseling, and they can also share their views on how your child is getting on at school. If they’re as worried as you are, it may be worth arranging a meeting between yourself, your child, and their teachers so that you can get to the bottom of what’s going on for your kid.