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The Bad Friend: How Can I End My 7-Year-Old Daughter’s Friendship?

Published: August 14, 2021 | By | 2 Replies Continue Reading
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Finding ways to handle the “bad friend” dilemma can be challenging but there are more options when your children are young.


Hi Irene,

Do you have any advice on how to end a friendship between my 7-year-old daughter and her 6-year-old “bad friend?” The problem is that when my daughter is with this girl she comes home with a bad attitude. For example: talking back, entitlement issues. Let’s just say my daughter turns into a monster after a play date with this friend.

My husband also feels that my daughter is not safe over at this friend’s house or when they are out with the mother. He picked up my daughter one day and the two girls were in the house alone while the mom was at a neighbor’s house down the street. Another time, he was at the grocery store and saw my daughter and her friend running out of the restroom while the mom was clear across the store shopping. The girls and my husband had to find her.

Their home isn’t safe either; it’s very old and cluttered and they use space heaters to warm the house. How do we go about ending this friendship with no hard feelings on both ends?

Signed, Betsy


Hi Betsy,

It’s common for children of all ages to be attracted to a “bad friend.” In addition to liking this friend, you daughter may well enjoy the extra freedom from adults that comes along with this friendship.

There is no need to end the friendship but you can take several actions as a parent to protect your daughter to protect her health and safety. A few suggestions:

  • If you consider the other child’s house unsafe, you can explain this to your daughter and not allow her to go there. Instead, suggest that she invite her friend to your home where you feel more comfortable and can monitor the girls’ behavior.
  • Do not allow your daughter to go on outings with her friend and her mother. Again, your daughter is old enough to be told your concerns. You can let the other mom know this too if the question comes up again.
  • Without forbidding her from seeing the “bad friend” (who is probably a victim of bad parenting, rather than an intrinsically bad kid), encourage your daughter to get involved with others friendships outside of school and not limit herself to this one

It is rather hopeless to question another parent’s parenting style directly without causing the other individual to get very defensive and angry—especially since you seem to have no real relationship with the other mother.

The good news is that when kids are of elementary school age, we have much more control over their friendships and a “bad friend” than we do when they get older.

You need to go with your gut and protect your daughter. Childhood friendships are learning experiences, most of them fickle and transitory. Your daughter may well outgrow this one before school starts again in the fall.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

Previously on The Friendship Blog: The Bad Friend: What’s a mom to do?

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Category: Child and adolescent friendships, Helping children deal with friendship problems, OTHER ADVICE

Comments (2)

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  1. HeatherL says:

    It sounds like the other little girl needs some stability like you offer at your house. Take Irene’s advice and still let her play with your daughter, please.

  2. Amy says:

    I agree with everything Irene said. From your perspective, this little girl is a victim of bad parenting. I belong to the “it takes a village” school of thought. Host the child at your home when the girls want to play. You can be honest yet tactful with the mother, if she asks why the change, you can say it’s a family matter without going into detail.
    As for your daughter “turning into a monster”, think of this as an opportunity to teach peer pressure, values and limits at a young age, which will be a continuing conversation as she gets older. Let your daughter learn from the consequences of her behavior. If you spend more time supervising their play, you can try to catch the friend when she acts appropriately and praise that, since kids ultimately want to please, positive reinforcement goes a long way!

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