With hopes and dreams for your child to have a happy and productive life, it’s disheartening when it seems she’s associating with the wrong crowd. The wrong crowd can lead to wrong choices, behavior problems, and distance between you and your child. Remember that, while parents may not understand it, your teen has a reason to hang out with the friends in the group. Use that understanding, coupled with compassion and patience, to lure her away from the wrong crowd.
Praise your teen for the positive characteristics you see in her before addressing the problems. Chances are that you already expressed your dislike of her friends. In this scenario, acknowledge that your teen is showing loyalty to her friends. If you have yet to express your concern, the process will go smoother.
Talk about the specific undesirable behaviors of the friends in the crowd. Avoid criticizing any characteristics of individuals in the crowd such as their dress or interests. Your teen relates in some way to the rest of the teens in the crowd. Either the friends in the crowd like her or your teen fears the crowd and joined them for safety reasons. In either case, speaking negatively will likely come across as criticizing her and her friends. Instead, state that your job as a parent is to keep her safe and protected. Make it clear that if her friends are jeopardizing those goals, changes will be enforced.
Decide the boundaries that you will set and make the expectations crystal clear to your teen. One way to dial out the wrong crowd is to limit the amount of time your teen spends with them by implementing a structured schedule. Schedule other activities for your teen, especially during periods that are more prone to undesirable behavior. Choose activities that will include interaction with teens who frequent a more suitable crowd. Set a curfew, decide if you will allow sleepovers, and outline ways trust can be earned for weekend or evenings outside of the house.
Prepare appropriate consequences for when boundaries are tested and broken. Focus on the child choosing the behavior in order to keep the responsibility on her shoulders, where it belongs. Your teen will not be happy about the loss of privileges so build a support network of your own to lean on when your teen detaches from you. Ask other parents for input and ideas for logical consequences based on the behavior.
- Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images