Why I Was Honest with My Kid About His Friend’s Bad Behavior

So when my son recently asked to have a play date with his old friend Sebastian, I said no. Sadly, Sebastian is one of those kids who hasn’t really grown out of preschool behavior, despite being in first grade.

“Why?” he asked. I felt conflicted. I don’t believe in ever speaking unkindly about another child, nor do I want to label another child as “bad.” But, I do want to be honest about how I think children should act. I want my son to be able to recognize when a friend’s behavior (as well as his own behavior) is inappropriate.

But before I could answer my son said, “Is it because we get wild together?”

I paused, still conflicted. I didn’t want to be mean. But the truth is, they do get wild together. I have a problem with my son being around a poorly behaved kid. So I told the truth. “Yes, it’s just not that fun for anyone.”

My son went off and played for a while and then he came back in the room. “I think you’re right, Mommy,” he said. “I think it’s better if I play with people who aren’t so wild. It’s hard for me to not want to be wild, too.”

Later he asked if he and Sebastian could have a play date next year. “In a year, I think we’ll both be more mature,” he said.

I’m pleased that he came up with the observation on his own, rather than it coming from me. 

I know that there will be many more conversations in my future about good and bad behavior. I don’t think there will be a time when I ever need to label a kid as good or bad, but I do think it’s important to continue to help guide my kid’s choices when it comes to friends. After all, I’d hate for him to get any ideas.

Photo: Getty