Picture this: It is Wednesday afternoon, and your fifth grade child runs off of the school bus and into your house. You hear an extra set of footsteps and think to yourself, “Oh how nice, he has a friend over.” You enter the kitchen to greet him and his friend when you see the refrigerator AND pantry left open. Food crumbs and wrappers are on the floor. Your son likes his things relatively clean and tidy. Your son cleans up after himself. His friend must be over, and to be honest, he isn’t your favorite child.
If your child has one (or a few) friend(s) that agitate you, it may be difficult at times to manage your emotions about it, as well as to be supportive of your child’s friendships. Read on for tips to help you deal with a friend of your child’s who you do not particularly like.
Tips to deal with your child’s friend you dislike:
- Keep discussion about the disliked peer separate from discussions you have with, or around, your child. You are entitled to not favor any of your child’s peers, for whatever reason. However, it is important that your child is unburdened by your feelings. You can deal with your feelings by talking with a spouse or friend about it, although it is best to choose just one person with whom to share these feelings. Talking to many people about your child’s friend makes it easier for the information to get back to your child. Writing your feelings out in a journal is a safe and effective way to ‘get out’ the thoughts you have about the peer as well.
- Look for the positives in the disliked peer, and praise them. Test yourself, and try to come up with two things about the disliked friend that are positive. Simple things such as ‘they dress nice’ or ‘they have a good hair cut’ are acceptable. Just start by finding two positives. Once you find those positives, point them out to your child’s peer next time you see him (Ex.“Your hair looks nice today.” or “You played soccer very well last night in the game.”). Focusing on the positives will help you to feel slightly better about the peer, at least in that moment. The more times you point out a positive, the better you’ll feel about the individual overall.
- Enjoy the time that your child spends with other friends whom you like even more. Cherish the time that your child is not with the disliked peer. Use this time to laugh, smile, and be happy that your child has other friends. This is also a time to point out, and praise, the things you like about your child and the friends that you DO like. Let them know how much you appreciate them cleaning up after themselves or how nicely they talk.
Following these tips will help you support your child’s social life, despite there being one or two friends of his you dislike. It is perfectly normal for you to feel differently about each of your child’s friends, and knowing how to handle the ones that you dislike will help create a more positive and supportive environment. If you feel like you dislike most of your child’s friends and want to help them find new peers, click here to contact a social worker at North Shore Pediatric Therapy.