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Our kids are getting older, more social, and developing new friendships outside of our comfortable little circle we established when they were toddlers. I love it very much, but am noticing friends that are a positive influence on my kids and those that aren’t.
Nothing terrible is happening, but we can sense the influence that one friend has on our child and we don’t love it. I’m also learning I’m probably not going to love all of my kid’s friends, so this is a new adjustment for me.
Their combined energy can be disruptive at school and potentially to each other’s learning capabilities. We got a lot of this intel from the teacher, who has no hard concerns, but just letting us know they don’t make the best learning partners. And our child isn’t working to their full potential when the other child is around.
Now, if I say something to my child, he’ll know I got the info from someone and I don’t want to break anyone’s trust. My child talks about this other child a lot and has a real fondness for them. I just want to promote making good choices and to continue to work hard. Should I leave it alone? Or should I say something to my child? How do you deal with friendships like this?
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My take on this is to just reinforce your family's ethics at home. If you instill a sense of good versus bad in your kid, you let them make the decision when it comes down to it at school. If your son knows he will get into trouble disrupting class, then maybe he won't follow along with the more disruptive kid. I think influence can go both ways as well. Don't discount your son's ability to influence the "bad" kid into becoming a better kid. I don't think you need to intervene until it starts to become a real problem at school, like if it affects his grades or how he is viewed by his teacher. I have faith that if you create a good person at home, they will be able to withstand the influence of a friend who has a little bit more of anti-authority bent at school.
Can you, or do you feel comfortable enough to talk with the other child's parent(s)? Would you be able to maybe request a conference with the teacher and the parent(s)? It could be an opportunity to encourage a positive recognition of the kids' mutual like for each other, and also address their not-so-positive tendencies. It may not be a plausible decision, depending on how the other parent(s) respond to the information, so maybe just an individual conference with the teacher, first, to see if she has any input on how the other child's parent(s) may react. Working with the teacher, you parents may be able to find ways for the kids to still maintain their friendship, but find more constructive uses of their time.
Also, would you feel comfortable in interacting with the other child in a setting outside of school? Maybe if you all went to carpet golf place, or a pizza place and spent time in a different environment, you could very casually be a positive influence in this other child's life.
My son was a real chatterbox in his early school years, and while he wasn't a bad influence on any of his friends, he certainly could be disruptive in the classroom. In an attempt to solve the problem, the teacher moved my son to a new desk where he was surrounded by girls. Unfortunately this just backfired as the girls were even more willing to talk than his male friends.
What did help was the teacher making sure that my son and his friends were not always partnered together for activities, and that she rotated the seating plan regularly. She also implemented an incentive for those children who worked well through the week and did not disrupt their classmates.
Rather than saying something to your son, I would suggest that you work with his teacher to find effective ways of maximising your kid's learning potential while at the same time not damaging the social aspects of his friendship. Our kids are going to meet and engage with children that have various strengths and different personalities and it is important for them to learn how to manage themselves when confronted by distractions or disruptions.