I’ve had my share of bad friends in my life, but honestly, none of them impacted me as much as seeing my child deal with toxic friends. While I know I can deal with whatever, it really hurts my heart when I see my child struggle.
When your child is dealing with toxic friends, it can be a hard situation to navigate. On one hand, you may want to swoop in and save them, while pushing the friends out of the picture, but on the other hand, you likely realize that you don’t want to make the wrong move and push your child even closer to the toxic friend. So there’s a fine line. With that said, there are some effective ways to handle this situation. Here are 6 ways you can help.
1. Listen, really listen.
Sometimes, no matter how much you want to jump in and save them, you simply need to listen. What your child needs most is a safe space to explain their feelings and work things out. Allow them to explain what is going on, and then you can decide how to move forward.
2. Ask open-ended questions.
When your child comes to you and begins to open up, ask them open-ended questions. For example, if they say their friend is bothering them, ask them why do they think that. Encourage them to reach their own conclusions.
3. Help your child see the big picture.
Your child may struggle to understand why their friend is acting badly. For example, my daughter had a friend who would get upset whenever she spent time with anyone else. My daughter thought the girl was just being mean, and I helped her to see that the little girl was struggling with self-esteem. Eventually, my daughter decided to part ways with her friend.
4. Understand that not all friendships are meant to be.
Sometimes, you may encourage your child to make friends, only to find out that friend was not a good fit. Instead of struggling with that, learn to accept that not all friendships are meant to be.
5. Point out what genuine friendship should look like.
Make sure that your child understands what a healthy friendship is. Point out examples of healthy friendships and tendencies.
6. If it’s bad, do what you’ve got to do.
If this friend is just simply toxic, it’s okay to step in. If need be, take drastic measures like requesting your child be in separate classes or decline invitations to spend the night.