Knowing If Your Teenager Is Hanging With The Wrong Crowd

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Knowing If Your Teenager Is Hanging With The Wrong Crowd
They don't tell you much...so how do you know who they're spending all their time with?

4. Upset or hurt your kid’s feelings. In this case, the definition of the wrong crowd is one that makes your child feel bad. It is telling that your kid remains friends despite being mistreated by the group. Your kid will need to develop greater self-confidence (by not putting up with those kinds of friends) and find a more supportive group of friends. This takes time and will probably require lots of conversations and effort on everyone’s part to figure out what’s going on and what your son or daughter can do about it.

5. Gossip network has branded them as trouble. Having a spy network of other parents, neighbors, teachers and some of your kid’s peers can be very useful. Make use of all the information at your disposal including the fact that you are a friend on your kid’s social networking accounts. (Right!?) This allows you to wander into the accounts of his or her friends to see what they have been up to.

6. Little or no parental supervision at their house. When an adult is not around to keep an eye on things (or doesn’t care) trouble is not far behind. You must have complete confidence in your kid before letting this happen with any frequency. Again, it’s time for another talk about (and evidence of) trust and responsibility before you will allow your kid to put themselves in that kind of risky (and tempting) situation.

7. Significantly older than your kid. What is an 18-year-old doing hanging around a bunch of 9th graders anyway? In middle school, more than one year difference can be a problem. In high school, more than a year difference (or being out of high school even if they are closer in age) is a high-risk situation. Older kids do older kid stuff; some of it is ok for older kids but not for youngsters. Besides, it will further push your kid to want to grow up too soon (and do grown up things). Another high-risk situation.

An important part of adolescence is learning to deal with peer pressure as well as the personal temptation to break rules and take risks. Friends are an important part of this. Your task is to try to rein it in before things go too far and, in some cases, to step in and shut everything down for your kid’s own protection. You may not be able to catch everything but you can keep a skeptical eye out for signs your kids’ friends may be luring them in the wrong direction.

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Dr. James G. Wellborn, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist with a private practice in Brentwood, Tennessee focusing on adolescents and families. He is the author of the book Raising Teens in the 21st Century: A Practical Guide to Effective Parenting where strategies for encouraging, praising and building self-confidence in teenagers are included among the 79 chapters on typical teenage issues.

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