Encouraging Positive Relationships

Fact: Friends are often positive influences in children’s lives. In fact, 65% of teenagers surveyed by Search Institute say that their best friends model responsible behavior.

Choosing one’s friends is an important part of growing up. Kids will meet new people, join new groups, change friends, and develop new relationships many times before they truly find the group that they “fit” with. And although you can’t choose your children’s friends, you can have a positive influence on the relationships they make throughout their formative years. Use some of the following strategies to help your children build positive relationships with their friends.

 
Encourage Diversity- Challenge your children to get to know kids from many different backgrounds and perspectives. In addition to exposing your kids to more diversity, it will also help them learn more about themselves.
 
Avoid Criticism- Avoid criticizing friendships, but be honest with your kids when you’re concerned. Don’t: Condemn your child’s friends. This may make them defensive and less receptive to what you have to say. Do: Be open and willing to listen to what she has to say, and talk about what makes you nervous.
 
Get Involved- If you feel that one of your child’s friends is having a negative influence on him, invite that friend to spend time with you and your child together so that you can have a positive influence on the relationship.
 
Offer Advice- When talking about a friend who has a negative influence on your child, focus your comments on that friend’s behaviors, not on her personality. For example, instead of calling your child’s friend irresponsible for smoking, you could point out that the behavior has a negative effect on her health and recommend ways for your child to help her quit.
 
Set Limits- Set limits on how much time your child spends with her friends—it’s important to develop positive relationships with family members as well.
 
Engage in Community Service- Engage your family in service and volunteering (or join a social group) through a local congregation, school, or other nonprofit organization—these events can be great places to meet new friends, and often result in new positive relationships.

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1. Developmental Assets: A Profile of Your Youth (Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute, 2005), 2003 weighted aggregate dataset, unpublished report.

 

Comments

4

four stars

5

Aha – now I am beginning to understand what my son’s guidance counselor means when she says “keep the lines of communication open”. I need the kind of real, practical situations you point out here. Much thanks!

5

Great tips!

My husband and I stayed involved with our daughter and she still chose to be rebellious and not follow through. She felt she didn’t have to work at sports or school because she was good enough. She was not emotionally stable, we sought counsiling for her and was told to put her on birth control. What kind of family does that? Our values were often expressed but were shameful to her. This daughter feels no one has the right to put boundaries on her. This is my youngest I have two other girls who are married and successul. I feel like a failure and can’t get it turned around. Yes I have also been to councilling and have been told so what is the worst thing that could happen? She would have to deal with the consequences of her choices. As a parent, I wanted to keep her from poor decisions and get her to make respectful and valuable choices to herself and her family. So why am I still up at midnight and not able to sleep until five in the morning? Maybe I care too much! She does not believe there is a God, she believes she is invincable, she doesn’t even have to obey everyday traffic laws like the seatbelt law. I am so ready to just say Leave my home and whatever happens to you let it happen. She really does try to not comply with any of our house rules: keep your room clean, keep your bathroom clean, be home by 12pm, and keep communicating with your parents. She feels we have no rights to know her friends or say anything about her life. I disagree and want help as her parent or I am asking her to depart.

My husband and I stayed involved with our daughter and she still chose to be rebellious and not follow through. She felt she didn’t have to work at sports or school because she was good enough. She was not emotionally stable, we sought counsiling for her and was told to put her on birth control. What kind of family does that? Our values were often expressed but were shameful to her. This daughter feels no one has the right to put boundaries on her. This is my youngest I have two other girls who are married and successul. I feel like a failure and can’t get it turned around. Yes I have also been to councilling and have been told so what is the worst thing that could happen? She would have to deal with the consequences of her choices. As a parent, I wanted to keep her from poor decisions and get her to make respectful and valuable choices to herself and her family. So why am I still up at midnight and not able to sleep until five in the morning? Maybe I care too much! She does not believe there is a God, she believes she is invincable, she doesn’t even have to obey everyday traffic laws like the seatbelt law. I am so ready to just say Leave my home and whatever happens to you let it happen. She really does try to not comply with any of our house rules: keep your room clean, keep your bathroom clean, be home by 12pm, and keep communicating with your parents. She feels we have no rights to know her friends or say anything about her life. I disagree and want help as her parent or I am asking her to depart.

my son is 20 years old and suddenly had a 360 degrees turn in his personality, wants to be out few nights a week without any reasoning, comes home smelling of dope. doesn’t like talk to us or answering us. His values are changed. has no interest in family life…

just wants to be home to have a place over his head and for food and luxuouries.
he was not like that before…

My twins just abruptly started to not talk to me or assume I could not understand .They have friends ,and some are kids who are from a family that has little interest in their child .These are the kids who love to spend time at my house because they see that I love my kids and care for them .I tend to say things when I get angry that I now see have a negative impact on my boys .They may feel like I disapprove of their friend where I actually want to point out the action is not always going to have a good outcome .

My son took his life at 39 years of age. At 11 years his Peer Group were influenced by the mores of the Hippy Generation. He was born in 1963. They taught him to smoke and supplied marijuana, and he drank with them too, spirits rather than beer. I would come home from school teaching to find they had taken over my home as a group, as they skipped school frequently. There were no cigarettes in our home. He became violent, hostile and lost his driving licence after appearing in court. We paid for expensive barristers, so he never went to prison, even though he seemed to want to go there.
He had very low self esteem, and developed schizophrenia. We were unable to communicate with him, yet he always returned home to live when he was in trouble. School years were always troubled, yet he was a delightful child who enjoyed communicating with people of all ages. School classes were large and method teaching became obsolete when he was in Grades 4,5. That is when he learnt to say ‘No’ and mean it, and his friends influenced his activities more than family or teachers. Study was derided, and Videos were shared. Where did he learn how to use a ligature?
Videos we were told. 24/7 influence, internet and mobile phones today are far more prevalent than the media available in the 60’s.
I wish I could offer wise advice to troubled parents now, but we never found an answer. How can we put the power base back to parents, who are responsible for misdemeanours. My son and his friends were paid to stay home from school from the age of 15. If they moved out of home, parents were not told where they were.
He believed none of us would be here by the time he was forty, as there were atom bombs to wipe us out. How do we communicate with our children when they don’t want to talk to us, much less obey house rules. Options? Work or study? This is far more difficult when literacy and maths were taught at an all time low level
which restricted intelligence development. I believe the gutter talk, low literacy levels,available pornography, and lack of respect for themselves,family and society are ruining the futures of many young people, and wish I knew how to change this situation. We must keep hope alive, but this is so difficult.

With a sunny, happy personality as a child,quick to learn, hyperactive, musically talented, and always wanting to be ‘liked’, why did my son change into an argumentive, angry, selfish, poor and provocatively hostile adult without a conscience? We can never know as we grieve for a lost life.
lawless derelict

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