Are you worried that peer pressure could lead your child down a bad path? Potentially problematic friends can be easily identified when you know what to look for. If you notice these destructive behaviors in your child’s friends, fast action may be required to keep your child or teen from getting further involved with them and influenced by them.

Warning Signs of Destructive Behaviors

Young children may be more transparent, but older children can be secretive about friends that they know won’t meet with your approval.

It is imperative that you pay attention to your child’s friends, and make it your business to know a little bit about them. In addition, pay close attention to what your child says when friends are not present, as well as what’s left unsaid.

With a little vigilance, you should be able to detect most of the following warning signs.

  • Lack of respect toward you or other adults: Your child’s friends, when they come over, fail to treat you with respect. They might avoid eye contact, ignore rules and requests, argue with you or be outright belligerent. This indicates a general lack of respect for authority, and may be an early warning sign of more problematic behaviors.
  • Destructive and/or violent behavior: Your child’s friends routinely make a huge mess when they come over, sometimes even destroying things. It’s always an “accident,” but it happens too often to be truly accidental. You get hints of violence, too: Maybe your child fights with his or her friends, or maybe your younger children complain of bullying after your child’s friends leave. Reports of violence could also come from the school or other parents.
  • Illegal behaviors: Maybe you notice, after a certain friend or group of friends come over, that you find money or other things missing. Or, perhaps you hear rumors about your child’s friends involved in shoplifting, drinking or drugs. However you find out, it should go without saying that illegal behavior is a critical concern.
  • Getting in trouble: Perhaps your child has mentioned to you that so-and-so got caught doing something, “but it wasn’t his fault!” Or perhaps another parent felt you needed to know. Either way, getting into trouble with the authorities is a fairly advanced sign of destructive behaviors.

Now What?

Your suspicions have been confirmed: Your child’s friend is showing signs of destructive behaviors. What should you do next?

Addressing the situation may take some finesse. When you talk to your child, be open about why the friendship bothers you, but avoid criticizing the friend. Instead, encourage your child to think about the bad choices their friend makes, and how continuing the friendship will reflect poorly on them. Don’t be afraid to set limits, whether that means requiring supervision or banning that friend entirely.

Anthony Louis Center

Recognizing destructive behaviors in your child’s friends is a big step, but you don’t have to take the next step alone. For assistance or more information on adolescent drug use treatment, please contact us at the Anthony Louis Center.