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Helping Teens Stay Away From the Wrong Crowd

by Erin Schreiner, studioD

Your child’s friends should be positive influences that help him feel good about himself and encourage him to make appropriate decisions. Sometimes, however, this isn’t the case. When choosing friends, some children don’t pick the healthy ones, but opt instead to befriend peers who consistently make bad choices. While swaying your child to choose friends wisely can be challenging, you can likely influence his decision. With effort, you can get your youngster to step away from the wrong crowd and acquire positive and supportive friends.

Study Your Teen’s Behaviors

When your once rule-following teen begins getting into trouble, it is easy to place the blame on his posse of friends. Before doing this, however, take a critical look at his behavior, reminds Victoria Clayton for MSNBC.com. Often, teens befriend people who are like them. If your teen has decided to buddy up to the bullies, he may be a bully himself. If you find that your teen is part of the problem, work to change this behavior instead of naively assuming that a new set of friends will fix everything.

Talk to Your Teen

Insisting that your teen stop hanging out with his current crew isn’t a viable option. If you place this kind of demand on him, you will likely only increase his allegiance to his group of peers. To get him to change his current circle of friends, you must get him to understand your perspective. Sit down with him and express your concerns. Explain that you are worried about his behavior and that you feel his current friends aren’t positive influences. Actively listen as he responds. By engaging him in a conversation, instead of dictatorially handing down a decision, you are more likely to succeed in getting him on your side.

Set New Limits

Make it more difficult for your teen to hang out with his current group of unhealthy friends, suggests James Lehman, who writes for the website Empowering Parents. Require him to tell you where he is going and what he is doing. If you catch him in a lie, dispense a consequence -- and be consistent. Explain to your teen that these limits are the result of your concerns about his friendship choices. With this explanation, you can show him that you have a reason for increasing his restrictions, even though it might be a reason he disagrees with.

Provide Enticing Activities

If you worry about what your child is doing with his current group of friends, keep him closer so you can better monitor his behavior. Suggest activities for your teen that involve staying in or not venturing far from home. If you select activities that are engaging enough, like late-night movie marathons or go-kart racing, you may be able to entice your teen to stay away from some less-safe haunts and the wrong group of friends inhabiting them.

About the Author

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.

Photo Credits

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