Kids are highly vulnerable to their peers’ attitudes and behaviours. Their peers can teach them about things you never wanted your kids to learn, and they can influence your teen to do things that are not only unwise but can be downright harmful to her.

To find new friends and shut off access to old friends  is not the best course of action because you are  risking your teen’s ability to relate to a world that she will soon need to enter.

Here are  some things that you can action.

Determine if there is a problem – If your  teen has a few questionable friends, don’t take action. Instead, look at the fruit of your kid;s life. If he is loving and connected to you, if he is honest and responsible, and if his primary friendships are sound ones, it may be that is being a positive influence on those questionable friends. Just be aware of how your teen may be influenced by these friends.  However if you notice negative things happening from these friendships – your teen withdraws from youo more, becomes more defiant, or starts having behaviour, substance, or school problems – then you need to act.

Determine the attraction. Before you intervene, start figuring out what about the questionable friends attracts your teen to them. Here are some reasons to consider

Your teen likes variety. Your teens friends can give you a visual of his insides. Monitor the way he is determining what kind of person he wants to be.

Your teen sees the good mixed in with the bad –  He may see the good aspects in them, and as adolescents aren’t generally as afraid of the negative attributes in their friends as parents are, and so may like it that some troubled buddy is kind, easy to be with, accepting or more honest than most.

Your teen is attracted to the opposite  Sometimes a friend represents a problem a teen is having. Who your teen is drawn to may tell you about some part of him that is struggling e.g. the compliant kid may gravitate toward the rebels because he wants  more permission to disagree; the high achiever may hang with slacker friends because they may not be handling well the pressure she feels; the teen who doesn’t feel approved may hang out with a dominant friend, who will approve of him if he is doing things the friend’s way. If you can understand why the attraction then you can work on your teen’s vulnerabilities with him.

Talk to your teen about his friends  If your teen’s friends are dragging her down, talk to her about it. Tell her what you see and what you are concerned about – don’t discuss it in a concerned voice, but in an unemotional, third party kind of way. Let her know which kids your approve of and which you don’t and why. If possible it is better to strengthen your teen from the inside while she is still in relationship with the problem kids.. She is less likely to feel forced to choose between you and her friends.

Set limits on the amount and quality of time spent with troublesome kids  – for instance you might prefer that she is with him in group  only settings. Let her know of the consequences should she be seeing him by theirselves.