So Your Child’s Friend Sucks…

In the beginning…

As babies and toddlers, we, as parents, get to pick our kids’ friends. It’s cute at that age. There’s an abundance of cherubic smiles. There’s the melodic giggles that come from a child who is still at the age where they’re learning to crawl, then walk—both literally and metaphorically. There’s the adorable baby babble. Sure, there’s the occasional squabble, but when they’re little it’s easier to break up and get under control.

But your little cherubs grow…

It’s inevitable, of course. And while you’ve welcomed the milestones, even if it’s mixed with bittersweet nostalgia, it’s rewarding to watch our little ones personality develop and evolve. The milestones continue, and before you know it your child is off in a social circle you didn’t create. Maybe you went back to work and they’re in daycare. Maybe they’re old enough to be in preschool or elementary school. Whatever the case may be, they begin to form relationships of their own choosing, with kids you don’t know.

And then you meet that child…

Oh yes, there’s always that child. In the interest of being semi-tactful, I’ll refer to them as “little baby demon face.” Of course, you may refer to them by a different moniker to other adults in person (I know I do). But for the sake of not swearing in mixed company, this title will suffice. But let’s be blunt: “little baby demon face” is a brat. You’re confused as to why your child would even want to be friends with them, and you dread their presence and influence in your child’s life. Your instinct is likely to swoop in and protect your child and make this other kid disappear faster than Ben & Jerry’s on a lousy day. But, not so fast…

How to deal with that child…

First, figure out specifically why you don’t like the kid. This is likely easy to do on the surface. But then you have to break that down. Is this child actually a danger to your child, or is this just a personality clash between you and your kid’s new little friend? If it’s the latter, you’re unfortunately just going to have to suck it up. You are not your child, and their personalities aren’t going to gravitate to the exact same type of people yours does. You don’t have to like them, as long as your child is safe. We all know that trying to make something (or someone) off limits only makes it more attractive. That’s not to say you can’t limit your own contact with this child. They don’t have to be in your living room, right in your face and grating at your nerves. There’s plenty of other places they can play.

So your child's friend sucks. Some handy tips for dealing with demon children.

Set boundaries…

This applies two-fold. If this child is going to continue to be a part of your kid’s life, for your own sanity, decide how you’re going to manage playtime between your child and their friend. While it’s tempting to simply restrict them to playing at the other kid’s house, this isn’t always realistic. You’re going to sometimes have to be the parent in charge, and that’s fine. They need to understand the rules of your home. This means they need to be reasonably polite and respectful to you and your home. Mouthing off to you is unacceptable. Leaving your home a mess is unacceptable. Make the rules clear. Make the rules fair. Apply them evenly between your child and their friend. If they can’t be respectful, they can go home.

Set boundaries, part 2…

If this child is an actual danger to your child, you absolutely have the right to put your foot down and put restrictions on the time they’re spending together. Whether this means talking to this child’s parent(s) to express your concerns, limiting the amount of time they spend together, or very closely monitoring their time together, you taking action is perfectly reasonable at this point. Understand, the child’s parent(s) may not be much help. They may be overwhelmed, or they may live in a fantasy where their child can do no wrong. If all else fails, cutting off the friendship may be the only option left.

You do what you have to do for your child’s well-being, but this route can be tricky. Be prepared for anger and/or tantrums. Be prepared for that child immediately becoming infinitely more important to your child. After all, you always want what you can’t have. Be prepared to have to monitor your child more closely, because it’s highly possible they’re going to find a way to get to that thing they can’t have. Be prepared to keep them busy. You know the saying: idle hands are the devil’s playground, and if your kid is bored, they’re going to be pining over the lost friendship that much more. Lastly, be prepared for the fact that this will not be the last time you’ll deal with this.

Be prepared to wash, rinse, repeat, and fall back on your Ben & Jerry’s.

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Katie Reed

Katie Reed

Katie Reed is a 38 year old mom blogger from Salt Lake City, UT. She is married to the man of her dreams and together they have four beautiful boys. Dexter is 9, Daniel is 7, Chester is 5 and Wilder is 2. She writes about living with mental health issues while navigating motherhood. Her blog focuses on tips and tricks for moms, information and parenting news, kid-friendly recipes and crafts. She loves to reflect on the humorous side of parenthood and shares the reality of her life, with a "warts and all" attitude.

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