Helping Your Children Recognize Bad Influences

Knowing how to recognize bad influences is key for children. If we educate them to have their own criteria, they'll know when to say no.
Helping Your Children Recognize Bad Influences
Mara Amor López

Written and verified by the psychologist Mara Amor López.

Last update: 13 February, 2023

Sooner or later, we parents may encounter the problem of our children having friendships that don’t benefit them. For this reason, it’s important that we teach them to recognize bad influences. We’re referring to friends who rebel against rules, don’t respect limits, and, in short, work against the values that we’ve taught.

In these cases, it’s important that we establish a good bond and good communication with our children. In this way, every time they have a problem, they’ll know that they can count on us. In the same way, we must educate them from an early age so that they have their own criteria and decision-making capacity. Therefore, they’ll be able to recognize if they’re dealing with a bad influence or not.

Recognize bad influences

If we want our children to know how to recognize bad influences, we must educate them so that they know, from an early age, to decide by themself if a friendship is good or not. For this, parents must show them that they can always count on us. It’s important that we take into account the following aspects for their education.

Variety of friendships

Encourage your child to have different friends, so that he can understand the diversity among people. With this, they’ll also be able to appreciate the diverse ideas, opinions, attitudes, and points of view of each person.

Individuality and independence

For this, we must be their greatest example and show them that each person is unique and unrepeatable. If children see in their parents ways to solve problems, even when under pressure, they’ll learn to say no to their friends when something doesn’t interest them.

Teenagers taking drugs.
By being assertive, our children may be able to explain why they don’t agree with their friends and say no when they don’t like or aren’t interested in something.

Firmness and flexibility in parenting

For this, children need to know that there are limits and rules at home that must be respected, but that, in some circumstances, there can be flexibility if the whole family agrees with that decision.

What to do if their friends are bad influences

All parents worry that their children, especially in the adolescent stage, will associate with people who aren’t suitable for them. We know that teenagers need to feel included in a group of friends. Therefore, if you suspect that your child has a friendship that may be a bad influence, you need to intervene.

First, you should observe any changes in their behavior. In addition, you can carry out some of the following recommendations.

Talk to your child

You need to establish a relationship with your children based on trust and communication. To do this, you can tell them your concerns. You must always avoid criticism and reproaches. In this regard, it’s important to use close and positive language, listen to them with interest, and take into account their opinions. If you start by telling them that you don’t like their friends, you may suffer rejection on their part.

Don’t speak ill of their friends

It may happen that your child isn’t able to recognize bad influences. In that case, you shouldn’t speak ill of their friends, as this could cause them to turn against you. Instead, you can mention some negative action we’ve observed in their friends so that they understand that this can also harm them, even if they haven’t participated.

A teengarer refusing to smoke.
If you notice that your child has bad influences, it’s best to talk to them and make them reflect on certain behaviors that their friends have.

Know their friends and their parents

It’s very important that you know your children’s friends to be able to observe closely whether or not they may be bad influences. Also, getting to know the parents of their friends is positive to know a little more about the environment they come from and how they’ve been raised. Consequently, we’ll know if there are more possibilities that these children may have problematic behaviors in the future.

Warn about the responsibility for their actions

If your child insists on continuing with bad company, you must make it clear to them that, even if they’re not participants in the bad actions of their group of friends, they’ll also be responsible. Therefore, even if they don’t intervene or cut ties, they may also end up paying the consequences.

Set limits, but without barriers

If you observe that your child’s friendships harm them, you can set limits so that they don’t with those people. However, this doesn’t mean that they can’t go out with other friends. You have to give them the opportunity and trust them to create their own group. For that, they need to relate to people their age.

On how to help children to recognize the bad influences

We’ve already seen how important it is to teach children, from an early age, to recognize the bad influences in their friendships. Educating them to have their own criteria and to know how to say no in an assertive way will help them on this path. If in spite of everything, your child doesn’t move away from these bad influences, the most opportune thing will be to look for the help of a specialist.

Many times, when their parents tell them that their friends are not good, children don’t take them seriously or even rebel. For that reason, if you find yourself in this situation, the best thing to do is to have another person from outside make them see that the friendships they’re making aren’t going to do them any good now or in the future.

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.

  • Cruz, R. C. T. Relaciones afectivas tóxicas en la adolescencia. MSc. Tatiana Huici Pinto, 9.
  • López, C. B., & RODRÍGUEZ-CÁRDENAS, D. E. (2014). Percepción de amistad en adolescentes: el papel de las redes sociales. Revista colombiana de psicología, 23(2), 325-338.
  • Hernandez, D., & Pittí, L. (2012). Influencia del ambiente familiar en la conducta del adolescente. Ingenio Social, (I), 40-50.

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