Why do wrong people stand out
False friends of children: this is how parents react correctly
It is a fact that you have to come to terms with: from a certain age onwards, the focus of child's life is no longer the parents, but the friends. And you can quickly get to the "wrong people". A difficult situation for parents that requires a lot of sensitivity and understanding.
Parental prejudices play a major role
The possibility of getting into wrong friends runs through life. Even small children are affected. Friendships in kindergarten are usually not permanent, after a few days the priorities may have shifted again. And when you start school at the latest, many kindergarten friendships are lost anyway. So if a toddler admires another one that doesn't suit you personally, you can usually sit it out at this age, because the matter will probably settle itself quickly. And in the meantime you could think about why your own daughter or son chose this particular child as a friend. Sometimes you are forced to go to court with your own prejudices. A child sees another child with completely different eyes than we adults and you can definitely benefit from that.
Social contacts are very important for primary school children
The psychologist Elfriede Schweinzer assumes that children also have to learn for themselves what is good for them and what is not. "The needs of children and parents differ and have been for generations. The values are different, as are the criteria by which one chooses friends. We have to and want to learn from our own experiences and we also learn from bad experiences what's good for you. " The head of the educational counseling center Roth / Schwabach is sure that no one is safe from making false friends. "We live in a real world and there are certainly people who are absolutely not good for us, who want to take advantage of us, who use us for their own purposes, who do not care about our needs or our well-being." If a toddler is still very focused on himself and his own needs, elementary school children already set other priorities. Social contacts and close friendships take on a whole new dimension and, among other things, determine the popularity of the class. Shared secrets, the formation of gangs and belonging to the "we" are now in the foreground, so the child can quickly come across someone who doesn't mean it well and, for example, plays it off. But that is also part of the maturation process.
How should parents react?
Basically, you shouldn't judge your children's friends and trust that your own child has a good reason for exactly this friendship. But if you notice that the child is no longer doing well, you can intervene. "In any case, you should make your child aware of this if you assume that this friend poses a threat. As a parent, you are ultimately the guarantee for reality, for experience potential and should also make this accessible to your child. The question is only always according to the 'how'. Bans do nothing, they only create an even greater incentive. And the older the children get, the more bans push the opposition. "It is better to listen, to question, new friends too to invite you to your home and try to get to know them neutrally, "says Elfriede Schweinzer.
You should also not interfere in a dispute, especially not judgmental. Even if one is actually of the opinion that nothing better could happen to the child than to get rid of this "friend". The well-known educational advisor and author Jan-Uwe Rogge once summarized this in an interview with "Focus Schule" as follows: "Frustrations are part of friendships. Children have to learn to deal with them. And it makes little sense if the mother plays the avenger of the dishonored daughter or the offended son. One should comfort the child and not belittle his grief. One should not say: Now you don't have to go there anymore. However, if it goes on for a long time and bullying tendencies become apparent, you have to talk to the child about how they can defend themselves Intervention does not mean solving the problem for the child, but rather working with them to find suitable solutions.
Show me who you go with and I'll show you who you are
Appearances and rumors should be left out. To transfer one's own concepts of friendship to childhood and youth friendships would also be the wrong approach. So that the choice of a group of friends does not become a means of exerting pressure on the parents, it is better to hold back, especially with teenagers. Because if you put bans in place, then you have to expect that the meetings will either take place in secret or that out of defiance a "battleground" will emerge. Jan-Uwe Rogge is even convinced that false friends are necessary for development every now and then. "It proves the correctness of parental norms and values. As a father or mother, you can make it clear that you reject certain usages (customs, habits) in your circle of friends, such as smoking or drinking. one would lose contact with the child. "
When it gets critical
Smoking weed, beating, extremism - in adolescence there are completely different aspects to the subject of "false friends". House arrest, threatened sanctions - pressure of any kind is pointless. "Since young people want to develop their own identity, they will seek contact with this friend, this clique," the psychologist is certain of. "Conversation, clarification and, in the case of severe threat, a joint visit to an educational counseling center helps to make the young person understand what is really good for him, to help him strengthen his self-confidence." Because false friends, who are increasingly appearing on the Internet nowadays, can massively overwhelm children and young people. There is a lack of life experience necessary to protect yourself. "For young people it is good to know: If I am overwhelmed with a situation, I can go to my parents and analyze the situation with them." Such a basis of trust is the best protection.
Education and help
"In order to protect your child from negative influences from the clique, it is necessary to offer him as much education as possible," says Frank Hofmann, head of the educational counseling center on Domplatz in Braunschweig. In addition to films and discussions in advice centers, the help of teachers can also be used. "You can ask at school that this particular topic be discussed in class soon," says Hofmann. In this way, the information would be brought directly to the teenager. "Other young people are also a good corrective here," says the qualified psychologist. Parents could try to use this and bring their child into contact with other circles - for example in a club or through political engagement. "You can make offers to young people here or encourage them to look for alternatives for their leisure time themselves." A ban on contact should not be the first reaction. Hofmann recommends listening to his child first and trying to get an idea of the people with whom they are surrounding themselves. "But if none of this helps, I would definitely forbid my child to meet with these people," emphasizes the educational advisor.
What's behind it?
After all, parents have the task of protecting their child. Often people who slipped into extremist organizations were actually looking for support and role models. "Parents may be able to ensure that their child can at least now offer this support again," says Hofmann. If parents lose contact completely, there are usually problems in the parent-child relationship beforehand. In such cases, an educational counseling center can help to rekindle the conversation between parents and children.
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