When Good Friends Make Bad Choices

Once we start sending our kids to school they’ll be meeting all kinds of new people that we may never meet.

Cherylyn Feierabend
4-minute read
Episode #102

Hey there! You’re listening to the Mighty Mommy with some quick and dirty tips for practical parenting.

When our kids are little we get to choose who their best friends will be. We usually base our choices on how much we like their parents. It’s true. My best friend just happens to have a daughter who is the same age as mine. I can’t say whether my daughter would actually choose my friend’s daughter as her best friend, but at this age, the choice has been made for her. I suppose if I noticed that they didn’t get along or if my daughter told me she didn’t want to play with her, play dates would cease, but for now they are happy to call each other “best friends.” I do notice that when we are in larger groups of kids, they often choose different playmates. My daughter generally opts to play with boys. This could be because she is one of only two girls in her class or it could simply mean that I’m going to have my hands full in five years; probably both.

Once we start sending our kids to school they’ll be meeting all kinds of new people that we may never meet. I’ve volunteered in my daughter’s classroom and I’ve met all of the kids she’s spending her time with during the day, but I don’t really know them. I do know that they’ve taught my daughter a few habits that aren’t my favorite. On the other hand, I’m sure my daughter has taught the boys plenty of sass to take home and share with their moms. When we can’t be there, we have very little control over what our kids are seeing and hearing. What do we do, however, when we are seeing, hearing, and not liking what our child’s friends are teaching them? When you know that another child, a playmate chosen by your kid, is a bad influence, what can you do to prevent the bad influence from taking hold in your child?

Your reaction may depend on the severity of the influence and age of the child in question. It can also be affected by your relationship to the other child’s parents. If you have a good relationship and the kids are still little, you can open a dialogue with the parent if you feel there are some bad habits. It’s tricky to bring up negative topics, so be careful in how you present these issues. If you have noticed your child picking up a bad habit, it may be better to say, “I’ve noticed that my son is using bad language lately. Do you have any suggestions how to handle this?” This way you are presenting the problem without placing blame. The other parent may even respond with, “I’m sure my son is teaching yours new words.” In this situation, you have opened the lines of communication and hopefully the other parent will address the issue. Of course, if you can’t resolve the solution, you may need to put an end to the play dates. Older kids who are picking and choosing their own friends are a different story.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.