Not all your teen's friends have a good influence on him.

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

by Eliza Martinez

You know that the wrong friends can negatively influence your teen, but he might not be quite so aware of the repercussions. While you can't watch your teen every second of the day, nor can you oversee his every decision, you can help him learn to make good choices when it comes to who he spends time with. It won't always be easy, but you might be surprised that your teen cares what you think and is likely to consider your opinion, even if it doesn't seem like he's doing so.

Don't criticize your teen's friends. Not only will your teen feel the need to stick up for her friends, but she might feel like you're criticizing her.

Talk about behavior. Without bringing his friends into the conversation, let your teen know what's acceptable and what's not. This lets him know what you expect of him, which leaves him the opportunity to make his own conclusions about the friends he spends time with.

Present new opportunities to make friends. Teens place a high value on their social life, so limiting their time with peers can make them resistant and rebellious. If you don't care for her current crowd, steer her toward new groups of teens. Help your teen find a fun volunteer opportunity or a class that teaches her a new skill or hobby.

Supervise your teen. This doesn't mean never letting him out of your sight, but teens who are monitored by their parents are better equipped to choose friends who don't exert a poor influence, according to Chris Knoester, professor of sociology at Ohio State University and a researcher of parent-child relationships. Keep track of where your teen is, who he hangs out with and what activities he enjoys, so you'll know if changes in his behavior might point to the wrong crowd.

Foster a healthy relationship with your teen. This is linked to the characteristics of a teen's friends, notes Knoester. Make time to enjoy activities together, show affection for your teen and keep the lines of communication open. Teens with a positive parental relationship are more likely to seek out friends who are less likely to fight and more likely to be involved in positive extracurricular activities.

Set limits. Your teen might think she has the right to spend all her time with friends and make her own rules, but that doesn't have to be true. Limit the time your teen spends with kids who have a negative influence, and set clear rules and corresponding consequences for failing to adhere to them.

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

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