How to Help Children Deal with Toxic People

The best tools to protect yourself from toxic people are strong self-esteem and proper friendship selection.
How to Help Children Deal with Toxic People
Elena Sanz Martín

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz Martín.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

People around us have a strong influence on our thoughts and mood. That’s why it’s necessary to select carefully the environment we want to be part of. This is especially important in the case of children, because they’re vulnerable and growing. Therefore, helping children deal with toxic people will allow them to live a more peaceful and happier life.

You probably remember that teacher who made you feel incompetent, that friend who took advantage of you, or that family member who tried to manipulate you using guilt. Children may find it a bit hard to identify these harmful behaviors and harder to protect themselves from them. So, let’s give them the best tools to prevent the damage.

Do toxic people exist?

First of all, you should know that there’s not such thing as toxic people. There are toxic behaviors. People who manipulate, humiliate or act in an aggressive way are usually hurt inside. They’re human beings that probably didn’t receive enough love, support or attention. And, their harmful behaviors are the product of their damaged emotions.

How to Help Children Deal with Toxic People

The aim of identifying this kind of people isn’t about having negative thoughts about them, but rather protecting ourselves. Thus, we need to teach our children to be understanding and compassionate. And, they should comprehend that people who hurt other people are usually damaged inside.

Nevertheless, your own self should always be your priority. You can’t put your health or integrity in danger in order to help someone who doesn’t want to be helped.

To protect yourself from toxic people, you need to identify them

First, you have to help children identify which behaviors are unacceptable or could hurt them. This can be really simple if they grow a strong and healthy self-esteem. Children with low self esteem may be willing to tolerate abusive behavior, because of their lack of confidence.

Also, the way they interact at home will define what they’ll be willing to tolerate from others. If parents address their children with love, understanding and respect, they’ll believe that those are the correct manners to communicate.

Try to use practical examples and explain to them how other people should treat them, and what they shouldn’t tolerate. Make sure they understand that physical or verbal violence, humiliation and indifference aren’t acceptable.

Choosing their environment

The most effective way to avoid toxic people is to choose an environment free of them. That means choosing carefully the people you want to spend time with, and getting away from people who mistreat you. Help your children identify good friends from harmful people. Furthermore, make them understand that they have the right to avoid spending time with people that make them feel bad.

How to Help Children Deal with Toxic People

Being surrounded by kind, understanding and generous people with the right values will make a difference in their everyday life and development. Let them choose their friends, making sure they understand they deserve the best, and they’re free to end harmful relationships.

Protection bubble to stay away from toxic people

Sometimes, it’s difficult to stay away from toxic people. They could be family members, teachers or people children are forced to interact with. When this happens, you can tell your children to imagine they’re inside a protection bubble. Then, when people mistreat them, your children will feel that those behaviors can’t go through their bubble. As a result, they’re protected.

Later on, children should express their feeling and emotions. Fortunately, during childhood, parents are their children’s guides. This means that what their parents tell them is the most important thing for them.

Finally, make sure they remember all their great qualities. Talk to them about their talent, kindness, intelligence and persistence. As a result, they’ll be free and confident, capable of finding self-acceptance.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.