How to Help Your Teen Choose Friends Who Aren't a Bad Influence

The friends a teenager makes can have a significant effect on his emotional stability and behavior. It’s common for teenagers to even place peers before family, according to the School A to Z website. Life can get complicated if your teen’s choices in friends don’t have a positive result, so you might need to provide guidance to help a teenager choose positive friends instead of ones who have a bad influence 1.

Keep a close and positive relationship with your teen. When parents have positive and consistent interactions with teenagers, spending time talking and engaging in enjoyable activities, this closeness can set the stage for teenagers making positive choices in their friends, according to a study conducted by Chris Knoester, assistant professor with the Ohio State University.

Talk about the qualities of a friend with your teenager, suggests Holly Tiret, with Michigan State University Extension. Explore the concepts of friends caring about each other, respecting each other, communicating honestly, working together to resolve issues and having common values and goals. Touch on qualities of a destructive friendship as well. A destructive friendship might show signs of jealousy, manipulation, dishonesty, blame and negative attitudes.

Involve yourself in your child’s friendships, if possible. Interact with the friends and invite them to spend time in your home under your supervision. Also, try to meet the parents of your child’s friends to create a network that supports and supervises the teenagers. You might even organize a get-together for your teen’s friends and their parents. Make the purpose of the get-together to come up with entertaining ideas for the kids to do, suggests a Mothers Against Drunk Driving pamphlet.

Step back if your teenager makes a friendship choice of which you disapprove. Criticizing and attacking your child’s friends will usually push your child to feel defensive of the friends, warns James Lehman with the Empowering Parents website 3. Instead of inciting your teenager to defend and protect his friends, discuss specific behaviors and issues you have observed that concern you. You might say, “I’m concerned that Justin has had problems with the police. I don’t want you to begin having problems like that and I’m concerned that spending time with him may lead to similar problems for you.”

Encourage your teenager to develop discernment and good judgment, advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 4. Spend time discussing issues and problems and help your teen learn decision-making skills. Step back and supervise while your child begins applying sound judgment to circumstances. Let your teenager know you are available to lend support and give advice.

Resist the urge to prohibit friendships unless the friends are engaging in illegal or risk-taking behavior, advises Lehman. In a potentially dangerous circumstance, talk to your child about the dangers associated with the friendship and tell him you won’t allow him to spend time with the friends. In the absence of evidence of danger, monitor friendships closely to ensure your child stays safe.