Avoiding Bad Influences
What should you do if you dislike your kid's friends? Your child can't say enough good things about her new best friend, Angelica. Delighted, you arrange a playdate. But instead of a cherubic sweetheart, you confront what is surely the Devil in disguise. What on earth do you do when you dislike your kid's best friend?
Every child needs a friend who has her back. So when you start hearing a name over and over, you probably relax a little -- this kid is your child's friend. Her best friend. The one who will be there for her throughout her childhood.
And then you meet her.
"Dislike" is a strong word, but it's not strong enough. No, what you're feeling is hate, plain and simple. You might have excellent reasons: the girl's terrible manners, her horrific ideas ("Let's dangle this ladder out the window and climb down it!"), the incomprehensible influence she has over your child. You might just have a bad feeling. Whatever it is, you don't want this kid anywhere near your precious baby. So what do you do?
What not to do
The most important thing to remember is what not to do. Do not forbid your child to play with this friend. She will immediately cling to the friendship with a strength you have never before witnessed. The two will lie to you, sneak around, and find all sorts of ways to give you nightmares for years. Fight your instincts on this one, and do not put your foot down.
It's also important not to tell your child that you hate her friend. That knowledge alone is enough to push your kid even harder into the friendship you don't want to encourage.
What you can do
Instead of forbidding the friendship or bad-mouthing the friend, you can set limits and boundaries. For example, let the kids play together, but keep the playdates at your house. Don't make a thing about it, just always have a handy reason for needing things to be at your place.
Limit the number of playdates in a week, or the number of times a specific friend can come over in a week, a month, or whatever time frame works best. Don't make these rules apply only to the friend in question -- just make it A Rule.
Encourage other friendships, but do so with great caution. Kids can smell manipulation from miles away, and they are not fans. Rather, if your child asks about a playdate, a sleepover, a whatever with another child, one you prefer, find reasons to say yes. If she's completely avoiding other, former friends, you'll have to step up your game. Try meeting another family for an afternoon activity or even plan a weekend away together.
Managing playdates effectively
When you do have DevilChild over for a playdate, keep tabs on things. Again, be careful with how you do this -- eavesdropping outside your child's bedroom door makes you the enemy. Instead, aim for activities: "Hey, I'm making cookies, come give me a hand!" Or take the kids places -- the zoo, a movie, out to lunch -- anywhere where you are necessarily nearby.
With a little careful planning, you can limit the amount of time your child spends solely under the influence of her friend.
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