7 signs your child has a toxic friend

When bad friends happen to good children, what can a parent do?


Remember when you were young and your Tiger Mum didn’t approve of you hanging out with the “Dennis the Menace”? “He’s a bad influence and I want you to stop seeing him!”. Mum would scold after she caught you doing something mischievous (again) with your best mate.

Yet you turned a deaf ear because “Dennis” was the coolest kid on the block. So what if you landed in the principal’s office mind after he egged you to disrupt music class? He was your BFF! In fact, wasn’t it twice as exciting to hang on to this pal simply because mum disapproved of him?

Fast-forward a couple of decades and karma is back to bite you on your behind. Your own offspring is now keeping company with a dubious character and you are at your wit’s end. It’s irresponsible to stay silent on the issue, but make one wrong move and you risk sabotaging your relationship with your little one.  It’s a tricky situation, so check out our expert advice.

“I believe that children are generally good by nature and that certain environments create behaviours that may result in them being ‘toxic’.”

Is he a really bad friend?

Just because your naturally reserved child befriends someone loud doesn’t automatically make said friend a bad influence. “Kids usually form friendships out of opportunity, occasion, shared play interest, and sometimes, it comes down to chemistry,” notes Cornelia Dahinten family coach and director of The Parent You Want To Be ― Conscious Parenting Training and Playgroups, which organises regular parenting workshops and talks. “Some shy kids often look for boisterous friends and some boisterous alpha personalities often look for followers.”

It’s pretty easy to detect the red flags of toxic behaviour. Rafizah Begum, a senior psychologist at Dynamics Psychological Practice, says your kiddo might have a troublemaker pal if one or more of these scenarios sound familiar:

·         Stories about the friend always involves him or her getting into trouble with authority figures, bullying or making fun of others.

·         The friend doesn’t abide by your child’s rules, such as her curfew.

·         The friend is rude to you or to other adults.

·         The friend does things to deliberately annoy others.

·         The friend is prone to angry outbursts and temper tantrums.

Click to find out what causes behavioural problems in some kids…