How to Deal With Your Kid's Annoying Friend

Every kid has one at some point: the annoying friend. You had one when you were a kid, and your kid probably has one now. Of course, you probably didn't even realize how annoying your annoying childhood friend was until you dealt with it from a parent's perspective. If you're not only annoyed, but also worried about the bad influence this friend could have on your pride and joy, it's time to take action. Read through to learn how to deal with the bad seed of your child's social life ... for everyone's sake.

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By Jae Curtis

You try to trust your child's judgment, but when it comes to choosing friends, that judgment can be seriously questionable. When your kid brings home a friend who is rude, noisy or generally annoying, it can be hard to put on a happy face. Learn how to make your child’s playdates more bearable without ditching the friend altogether.

Set standards.

When your child and his friend are in your home, lay down some ground rules before you let them loose. It doesn't need to be exhaustive—just a quick rundown for what you expect when it comes to language and behavior. That way, if your kid’s playmate does break the rules, you can issue a quick reminder—and have a leg to stand on when you tell your child that he should find a new buddy to play with.

Be straightforward with your child.

Honesty is the best policy when talking to your child, says board-certified family medicine physician Deborah Gilboa. “If this child has a behavior that rubs off on our kids but isn't dangerous, then we can level with our kids.” She suggests giving your kid this ultimatum: “Your friend X speaks disrespectfully. I've noticed that, after she visits, you pick up this habit for a while. If you'd like to continue to hang out with X, you're going to have to stop absorbing this behavior.” Annoying quirks can rub off on your kid, and by calling it out, you alert your little one to stop the sass after his friend heads home.

Monitor behavior.

If your child's friend tends to act up when left to his own devices, find a way to keep him under watch when he's around. For instance, instead of sending the kids into the backyard—where they could potentially get into trouble—offer to play a board game. You'll get to know your child's friend a little better, he’ll be more aware of your presence and he'll be less likely to act up.

Plan playdates.

You have a lot of sway in your child’s social life when he’s young, so take advantage. Set up playdates with kids who might be a better influence. Look for possible playmates at school, at various activities or through your own friends to help widen your child's circle of friends and to minimize time spent with an annoying kid.

Get busy.

The busier your child's schedule, the less likely he's home and looking for a playmate. Whether it's signing up for soccer, taking piano lessons or going for a family hike, simply making your family less available means there's less of a chance of suffering through an annoying friend's potty jokes or inappropriate language.

Utilize teaching opportunities.

If you find yourself saddled with a youngster who doesn't follow rules, lacks manners or drives you nuts, use it as a way to teach your child what is and isn't acceptable when he's at other people's houses. After all, you want to make sure that your kid isn't the annoying one for other parents, so explaining how to follow the rules of the house, proper language and acceptable behavior reminds your kid to clean up his act when playing with his own friends.

Write down your house rules.

If your child and his friend have trouble following your verbal instructions, consider posting a list of house rules in an area of your house where the kids play together. Seeing something visual can help children understand and respect your rules. Plus, having a printed version of house rules avoids any excuses about forgetting what is and what isn’t appropriate.

Discuss discipline before playdates.

Disciplining another parent's child can land you in dicey territory, so you should consider discussing the topic with the parent beforehand. Ideally, you should be comfortable reprimanding a kid who steps out of line when in your home. If he does something unacceptable, simply remind him that it's not okay in your home, and if he wants to continue playing, he'll need to obey the rules of your house. If need be, it’s completely acceptable to end a playdate.

Discuss behavior after playdates.

Disrespectful behavior or a blatant disregard for rules requires a conversation with the friend’s parent—but not generally annoying actions. Since parents are protective of their kids, use gentle language and a non-confrontational tone when you bring it up. Say, "I noticed when the kids were playing the other day that Billy used some language that I don't allow in my home. It made me uncomfortable and I'd rather it didn't happen again."

Ask your child his perspective.

If you wonder why your child is friends with someone, ask him! Give him a chance to open up, and he may make better sense of his young social life. For you, it can’t hurt to get a sense of how your little one thinks, and you can begin a dialog about friendship and good behavior. Early friendships are important, but one troublesome buddy won’t likely scar your kid forever. Next time that friend comes over, put your personal feelings aside and keep in mind what’s best for your child.

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