If you’re reading this, then your kid has unfortunately become victim to a bad influence friend, and you’re asking yourself how you can protect your child from their new found bestie, since all he’s doing, is teaching YOUR child disrespectful behavior.

boy shooting slingshot

When Your Kid Becomes Besties With the “Bad Kid” in class

It’s happened.

Something you dreaded would happen the first time you caught sight of “that” kid you desperately hoped your kid wouldn’t think was cool — that kid you give the stink eye to every time you pick up yours from school.

Yes, the “bad” kid that gets your kid to do all the things he wouldn’t normally do. The kid that is allowed to everything your kid isn’t. The kid that is funny, charming, and everything your kid wants to be.

I have had “that” friend. You have probably had “that” friend — perhaps you were “that” friend. And while you want to let it go, you still can’t help thinking of ways to sabotage their friendship.

When your child gets in the car and tells you they had a fight with so and so and they are no longer friends, you hope they won’t see your happy face in the rearview mirror as you’re screaming inside with excitement.

Low and behold, the next day, so and so and your child made up. They are friends again. Best friends.

So what should you do? You waited a bit to see if things simmered down between them, but as it stands, they are best buddies.

Best buddies who keep getting in trouble.

And the age-old question is — do we allow our kids to choose their own friends, or do we intervene when we see “that” friend as being the bad influence we knew they would be the moment we laid eyes on them?

I guarantee you, if you’re a parent, you will experience “that” friend, and be asking yourself these questions.

Well, I’ve been there recently, which is why I decided to write this post — to let you know what we did when it came to our son having the “bad influence” friend.

What to do when your child has a bad friend

bad friend

1. We got to know “that” friend

Get to know them! Invite them over to your house. See how your kid interacts with him/her.

Let them play video games, have a blast, and do all the things. Make good snacks that are most likely loaded with sugar and processed chemicals.

Make your home the place your kids want to hang out with their friends.

This is seriously the best way to stay informed on ANY friendship your child will have throughout their adolescence.

My husband experienced something as a pre-teen that heavily influences the way we handle these things today.

He was NEVER allowed to play video games at home. So what did he do?

Behind his parents back, he went to his bad influence friend’s house and played age-inappropriate video games, and was introduced to a myriad of crap that could have otherwise been avoided if only his parents weren’t so naive and strict. See what I mean?

girl pulling someone

2. Teach your child about making their own choices, and not following the crowd

It’s important to understand that although your child may have a friend who is instigating things, they still have a choice in the matter — all the more reason to teach them that they can stand up for what’s right and be a good influence.

We have to start young with teaching this to our kids.

It has a lot to do with instilling confidence in who they are. Mentally strong kids are more likely to be sure of who they are, and not follow the crowd or do something just because it’s popular or someone told them to.

Teach them that doing the right thing trumps everything else.

Read more about that application in this post here.

mom and daughter talking

3. Foster an open and honest relationship with your kids

Obviously, that’s the intention of every parent, right? But as your kids get older, this get’s more complicated.

Once they begin to understand they can get away with stuff, they begin to lie.

But why do kids lie?

Because they feel like they will disappoint you, or they feel ashamed.

Well, what if we created a safe place for them to share their mistakes, without judgment or discipline?

Read more about how to do that here.

When we reward our kids for telling the truth about something hard to say, we will increase the probability that they will come to us with anything.

That doesn’t mean we don’t have them take responsibility for their actions; there’s a difference between judging them and having them take responsibility.

It means that we are a safe place for them to come for anything, while also rewarding them for the truth.

Our kids will always lie to us. But we can do our best to encourage honesty through continuous and open conversations about things your kids might be facing.

Stay up to date as to what’s happening socially, culturally, and all things technology.

Talk to your middle schooler about sexting. Have “the talk” more times than once as they journey through adolescence.

Make sure that the “sensitive” subjects are frequently discussed in a non-judgemental environment.

Pretending your child won’t face those things will only widen the gap between child and parent even more, until you no longer have any influence in their life. Stay connected.

If you’re looking for a way to connect with your kids on a deeper level, check out this incredible dinner talk card game – OUR MOMENTS. Conversation starters that will resonate with your kids for emotional bonding and a great neutral way for them to open up to you. With questions like “If you were a superhero, who would you be?” you will find yourself laughing and connecting as a family in a unique way.

peer pressure

How do I talk to my child about a bad influence friend?

4. Share your concerns with them

With our son, we have frequent conversations about our concerns with his friend’s choices. We told him we aren’t fond of those choices, but we will support their friendship as long as he isn’t also making bad choices.

Teach your child to be a good influence, which means showing him that his friend’s choices are wrong.

My son understands this.

His friend made fun of another kid the other day, and my son understood that was wrong because of how we’ve raised him.

He stood up to his friend and told him he should stop doing that.

He doesn’t participate in it because he knows it’s wrong, but his friend keeps making those choices to bully.

kids playing video games

Try not to control who their friends are

Again here, we can’t control the choices of his friend or the fact that our son keeps deciding to be his friend. But by having many conversations about their friendship, we can better understand what’s happening, and give our son direction in how he should handle a situation.

Sometimes, our son recognizes how this friendship isn’t fulfilling, and he says he doesn’t want to be friends with him anymore.

But since he’s 8yo, and the influence of other kids is STRONG, he gets sucked right back in.

But that’s okay. As long as we are welcome in that experience, and my son isn’t participating in the bullying, I can accept it.

Because here’s the thing.

There will always be “that” friend

There will always be stupid decisions my son makes.

There will always be things he’s exposed to that I would rather him not experience.

But since putting him in a bubble and keeping him from everything difficult or inappropriate is not a healthy or viable option, I have to teach him what to do in those situations.

I want to prepare him for the world he WILL grow up in, not for the one I WANT him to grow up in. Catch my drift?

I need to first and foremost focus on my relationship with him.

When his home life is healthy, he will be more likely to face those situations in life with confidence in what’s right, not what’s “cool.”

That being said, he’s still a kid. He will make bad choices. It comes with the territory.

But I refuse to be the person he never goes to because he feels guilty or condemned.

Sure, I’ll make him take responsibility. But that’s different than making him feel worthless and like he’s a “bad” kid.

As a Christian family, we teach him that he isn’t his mistakes. That there is redemption and forgiveness if he screws up.

That failure is apart of life, and it’s okay to mess up. Because if I know one thing about being young, influential, and naive, it is that you will make many mistakes.

And having a parent there to walk through it with you is irreplaceable and a million times more beneficial, especially when dealing with a “bad influence” friend.

good friends laughing

5. Get them involved in activities where there are “good influence” friends.

Apart from school, there are many options to get your child involved in activities that will help them get to know other friends.

Church youth group or club sports are great options.

But even with those, there can be a “bad” kid.

All the more reason to stay involved and connected to your child. At the end of the day, your relationship with your child is of utmost importance to the choices they make in life.

And most importantly, sometimes all you can do is sit back and PRAY. Let them go in a way that shows that you trust them, because ultimately, the safest place for them to be, is released into God’s hands.


Positive parenting tools for every parent 

Screen Time Protection and Teaching Moderation

I’ve recently partnered with Bark, a software to supervise, manage, and protect your child’s device use on the go. Use the code WORDBIRD at checkout to get an additional 1-month free trial after your first initial 7-day trial!

Screen Time Checklist Printable for Kids – FREE if you sign up for our weekly newsletter. Just fill out your info below. 

Book List for Kids and Parents

Check out my recommended books for parenting

Book list to teach kids about racial diversity. 

Journaling for Kids

When a child is old enough to start drawing, coloring, or writing, journaling is an incredible way to help your kids better express themselves in a free and comfortable way. Check out our Kid’s Printable Journals — created specifically to help children better express their feelings, encourage gratitude, and spark the imagination. 

Chores for Kids

Magnetized Chalk Chart for Fridge

Implementing chores and structure in your child’s daily life is a VERY helpful tool to teach them follow through, discipline, and respect. We use this chore chart in our family to help our kids keep track of their own progress, and keep you from having to constantly remind them of their daily tasks. 

If you’re looking for something a bit more simple, this is also a good option. 

Chore Chart Printable – Get it NOW from the convenience of your own printer

If you’re looking for something you can print out immediately and start implementing chores in your home today, check out this CHORE CHART PRINTABLE. With a Mandalorian theme, it makes for a lighthearted and fun way to encourage kids to do their daily and weekly “missions.”

Emotional Connectivity with Your Kids

Connecting on a deeper level emotionally with your child is CRUCIAL, and sometimes more difficult. We play THIS GAME often in our family to create a safe space for our kids to feel free to share their questions and emotions, all without judgment. 

We even offer an “Exemption Time” for the duration of this game, where anything he tells us is off the table for consequences. 

Check out these other posts on emotional connectivity on the blog!

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Author

Hillary Gruener is a wife, mother, writer, and musician. If she's not at her desk writing content on family life, she's adventuring the world with her husband and two boys.

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