Helping Your Child Identify and Overcome Unhealthy Friendships
Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Adolescent years are an exciting time for you and your child. This is when she will be transitioning into a teen and experience changes in her body, mind, and personality. However, they could also bring forth many challenges, such as encountering unhealthy relationships with her friends. This could be true whether or not she goes to an international school in the Philippines.
At this age, your child will begin to seek greater levels of trust and intimacy with her friends. She would want to cultivate deeper relations that go beyond playing with toys. With this being said, she may end up having problematic connections with her peers that could be a concern for a parent like you.
Let’s discuss this further below.
Signs of a Toxic Friendship
If it is apparent that your child becomes obsessive with trying to please her friend, then there is a good chance that she is dealing with someone toxic. Pay attention if her peer treats her parents or any other adult figure with resentment and disdain — this is not a good sign as it entails issues with authority.
Another indicator to watch out for is if the friend wouldn’t allow your child to talk about their time together. In other words, she may come off as hesitant when you ask her about it.
Other signs you need to be on the look-out for are:
- Your child copies the unruly behavior of her friend (e.g. swearing or acting out).
- The friend bullies other kids.
- The friend is often rude.
- The friend would get your child in trouble at school.
- Your child is being demeaned by her friend.
Helping Your Child Break Free
As a parent, one of the first things that you can do in this type of situation is to have a talk with your child about her friend’s behavior. Make it a point not to attack or speak inflammatorily about the friend, but be honest and firm with your observations.
If they tend to hang out outside of your home, be sure to implement strict but reasonable rules like having a curfew. If you could, list down all the places they can visit (the mall, the park, or the friend’s house). Once the toxic friend invites your child to stay beyond acceptable hours or go to another setting, she may be able to realize the unappealing nature of their relationship.
Take Time to Listen
Although it may be very tempting to flood your child with all your wisdom, keep in mind that children generally resist this kind of approach. Instead, you have to help her come up with the answers herself.
Sadly, she may initially try to push you away. This is why you must be patient and why you must continue to ask objective questions regarding her situation and how it is affecting her. Eventually, she will feel comfortable enough expressing her feelings about this friend.
The Things You Shouldn’t Do
Being concerned for your child’s welfare is completely understandable. However, keep in mind that there are certain actions that will not help the situation. They are as follows:
- Banning Friends – Your child will feel overpowered and helpless if you start to ban friends. She might even dive into rebellious behavior later on.
- Judging and Criticizing – Your teen is fairly new when it comes to having healthy friendships, so she wouldn’t understand if you instantly judge and criticize her choices. For her to comprehend what a non-toxic relationship is, bring her to the coffee dates you have with your own friends; or perhaps, tell her some stories about how you are with your peers.
- Confronting Offenders – If your child is hurt by her bully-friend, getting yourself directly involved rarely makes things any better. Instead, work with her and provide her guidance so she can make good decisions about this particular friend.
Whether parents want to or not, there is a possibility for their teens to experience toxic friendships — regardless of the fact that they go to an international school in the Philippines or not.
The best thing that you can do is be there for them and provide them with the right guidance so they can come up with the answers in their own way.