How-To get rid of your Teen’s Toxic Friendship

Teens toxic friendship. Identification with friends help in influencing teen mental well being

Teens Toxic Friendship: At teenage phase, children do not know too much about relationships. They remain confused about their relationships or friends. If these relationships are good or bad.

Teens take tings at face value and don’t usually read between the lines. They get attracted towards fascinating things more than real things.

While it is true that at this stage the child is going through major biological, emotional, and physical changes, you might also notice that there are changes in your child’s behavior and friends during this phase.

You might start noticing some friends with toxic or bad traits around your child. Your teen’s toxic friendship impacts their behaviour negatively and your parental instincts kick in.

It tells you that your teen is spending most of the time with friends you don`t approve of or you feel are not right for your teen.

You try to stop your teen or talk them out of the friendship, but you are unsuccessful or unable to find a suitable way.

And you are worried about your teen’s toxic friendships and friends, and you don`t know how to deal with this situation.

Does this sound familiar? Many parents experience this issue at the teenage phase of their children. I sure did. My teen’s toxic friendship got the best of both of us for a few years.

Toxic friendship

My Story

One of my son was friends with a mechanic boy. This boy in turn, had friends who were school dropouts and had nothing to do and were wasting away time.

My son would go to this person’s garage and take for a spin the bikes that come to the garage for repair.  He would take with him the other boys who came to the shop to kill time.

He started bunking school and started talking about why school is useless and is a waste of time. How he could earn right that minute being a mechanic. How he can enjoy life than wasting it in studies.

I could see that my teen’s toxic friendship took his hygiene for a beat. His behavior and attitude were atrocious and his mannerism stinked.

He was 15 going 16 yrs. old at that time and an embarrassment.

Fast forward couple of painful years to get over… Today he is 18 going on 19 yrs. old and I can tell you I am very proud of his responsibility, ambition, his outlook, and behavior.

In this article I have written from my experience, with my teen’s toxic friendship and wisdom gained through after thought and failures.

And I hope it will be of some benefit to you and help you in your journey…

Topics covered in the Blog Post

What is a toxic friendship?

Your teen’s toxic friendship in simple terms it is an unhealthy relationship. It is something that does not have a positive impact and does not make the friends grow in a positive way.

Everyone usually evaluates another by the friends they have around. The saying goes ‘Tell me your friend and I will tell you who you are’. The reason is that friends influence a person life in many ways.

So, it’s important to know about the friends your teen has with them and how your teen’s toxic friendship is affecting them.

Making a new friend is usually avery easy thing for teenagers. b

But this can work disadvantageously in your teens if they encounter and make friends with a person with toxic traits.

A toxic friend can change and influence your teen and screw their head up. Toxic friends often cross your teen’s boundaries and try to let them down.

They can totally erode a person of their sense of self and can compromise their mental and physical health.

 Your teen’s toxic friendship can make your teen feel bad about themselves.

That’s why a teen’s toxic friendship can lead them to suffer from insecurities and inadequacies with their self. 

Moreover, teens toxic friendship can drain your teen’s positive energy and can make them weak emotionally and mentally.

How to spot a toxic friend? (Character Traits)

Here, I will discuss some traits of toxic friends. Look out for these traits and when you spot them, have your antennas up. Watch out for the influence of your teen’s toxic friendship on your teenager’s life.

Be aware of the traits so you can easily spot any person that is not good for your child’s overall wellbeing and nip it in the bud.

Selfish and self-centered

Selfishness is a toxic trait. If you feel any friend of your teen is extra selfish, not only about things related to his/her own self but also towards your teen or their belongings.

Everything that your teen has, they will need. And all conversations they have has to be about them. And they will offer help only if it benefits them.

Rebellious and stubborn

If any friend of your teen intentionally goes against your set of rules or forces your teen to do the same thing then it is not a good influence at all.  They like it their way always. It is my way or highway attitude.

Short fused and arrogant

You feel like walking on eggshells with them. They can burst out into a fit of rage anytime. They are also arrogant and think too highly of themselves. Can be bull headed at times.

Insulting, harsh, and rude Behavior

Rude or insulting behavior is an identifiable trait of a toxic friend. If any friend of your child uses unkind words or criticize your child.

When you spot your teen’s, friend making insulting or demeaning comments about your teen or others.

Manipulative and smart

These types of people use their smartness to manipulate people around them to get the output they desire.

They can even resort to being a bully to get their way. Or play the damsel in distress, if they can get what they want.

Jealous and suspicious

They are jealous of you. Be it looks, appearance, possessions, your skills, talents etc… They are also resentful of your achievements and try to play it down.

They are also suspicious about everything and expect you to prove or substantiate what you are saying all the time.

Devious and deceitful

They can be misleading, use underhand tactics, lie a lot etc. to get away with anything. Or to get what they set out to do.

Inconsistent and Untrustworthy

They tend to be fickle. Change their word often and they lack consistency. Cannot be trusted. They gossip and talk behind your back. They exhibit erratic behavior. Sometimes they are all lovey dovey and sometimes they are cold. Extremely unpredictable.

Pessimistic and unempathetic

They have a negative outlook of life and happenings around them. Toxic friends do not feel your challenge or pain. They just are unhappy and discontent with themselves. Always complaining, whining about things, dissatisfied and can be fussy at times.

Opportunistic and cheap

They try and take advantage of whatever their friend can offer. These are the types of friends who keep asking for things and keep using your teen’s resources but will not give anything in return. Or do not give or share happily

Opinionated and judgmental

They are opiniated and pass strong judgements on or about a person. Can use their sharp tongue to cut their way through with their harsh opinions and judgments.

Alarm bells that your teen’s toxic friendship is affecting them

Not everyone deserves your child’s friendship. So, you should be aware of your child’s friends circle. Toxic friends can destroy your child’s nature completely.

They influence your child in a bad way. Attachment with toxic people can affect their mind and emotions.

These people can damage your child’s self-esteem and lead them towards stress and anxiety.

Below are the alarm bells that should ring when you spot these signs in your teenager. These are mainly related to the behavior and attitude changes in your teen after the entry of the toxic friend in their life.

  1. If you see some sudden changes in your child’s behavior such as your teen becomes more rebellious, questions your authority, threatens to run away etc.
  2. If your child experiences low self-esteem or is noticeably more guarded than normal,
  3. Suddenly makes new friends and ignores their old friend for no clear reason.
  4. Your teen is isolating themselves a bit too much except for that one friend.
  5. Is becoming more stressed and irritable.
  6. Your teen is becoming emotionally distant and starts to become secretive. Not telling you their whereabouts etc.
  7. Is erratic in their schedule. Suddenly dropping things to attend to friend’s need.
  8. Starts having negative body image issues. Eating habits tend to change.
  9. Your teen starts to become anxious or depressed. Talks as if there is no hope in life.
  10. Starts to indulge in risk taking behavior including violence and aggression.
  11. Has more than normal episodes of anger outbursts and backtalks with you. Or tries to avoid topics when you are bringing your concern up.
  12. Your normally happy and bubbly teen starts becoming gloomy and unhappy.
  13. If you see your teen is overly influenced by any friend. Especially if it is accompanied by negative behavior.
  14. If your teen appears busy all the time and has little time for others or to attend to their responsibilities. And appears tired and exhausted.
  15. Your teen’s belongings and valuable start going missing and when you enquire you get to know that your teen has “loaned” them to a friend.

To know more about teen related issues and challenges, browse though our detailed articles using this link -> Parental challenges while raising teenagers.

13 Reasons why your teen continues with a toxic friend

There are many reasons why your teen continues with a toxic friend… Some of them are listed below…

As a parent it is important for you to know the primary reason/ hook that your teen’s toxic friend has on your teen to know what strategy to use to sever the relationship.

  1. Your teen is not aware that the friendship is toxic
  2. They feel responsible for the friend.
  3. Your teen feels guilty breaking up the friendship.
  4. The toxic friend and your teen have known each other for a long time. They feel loyalty towards them.
  5. Your teen feels emotionally blackmailed to be in the relationship
  6. Fear of the friend is stopping your teen to break up with the friend.
  7. Your teen has got used to the friendship and the way they feel in the friendship.
  8. Your teen has too many inter-tangled social circles where this friend is also part of
  9. Does not have any other friends to hang out with.
  10. Your teen does not know how to deal with the relationship and move forward.
  11. Your teen lacks the courage to confront or break up, or let go and move on
  12. Teen believes that things will get better eventually.
  13. Your teen is caught is a situation where they are blackmailed or threatened to continue the friendship.

You might be interested to read our articles

  1. How to develop self-confidence in your teenager
  2. How to Train you teenager to be smart

Teens toxic friendship – Evaluation checklist

I have listed down the evaluation checklist that I have asked my teens to answer with a simple Yes/ No to gauge for themselves the strength of their friendship.

(Side Note: My son also used this to evaluate the type of friend he was.)

I will tell you how to tactfully use this in a short while…

  1. Are you happy and relaxed with your friend?
  2. Do you enjoy spending time with your friend?
  3. Do you feel secure and comfortable in your friendship?
  4. Can you say ‘NO’ to your friends request without worrying about the consequences?
  5. Can you trust your friend 100% with your secrets?
  6. Has your friend forced you to do something you do not like?
  7. Does your friend do things you do not agree to?
  8. Can you rely on your friend to be there when you need them?
  9. Do you and your friend hold same interest and hobbies?
  10. Does your value system match with your friends’ value system?
  11. Has your friend stood by you in your lows and highs?
  12. Do you tell and celebrate your achievements with your friend?
  13. Does your friend treat others the way you would treat them?
  14. Is your friend frank, honest, open, consistent in their words with you?
  15. Do you trust their opinion and judgement 100%?

How to get rid of your teen’s toxic friendship

Now that we have come thus far it is important to know how to proceed further…

You need to exercise patience and tact and take your teen along with you each step of the way to help get rid of the toxic friendship…

Just telling or ordering your teen or stopping your teen to not get involved with certain friends is not going to do the trick. It can in fact backfire.

Below are some guidelines to help you in this quest.

Identify the hook

I have listed above the common hooks I have found in my teens or that of my friends when we have interacted with them.

Each hook needs a bit more probing and different course of action.

E.g.: If your teens toxic friendship is based out of fear. Find out why they fear the friend. What influence do they think they hold on your teen. Do they bully your teen? Or is your teen afraid of being slandered or socially isolated.

Find the reason to plan your action on how to unhook your teen form the toxic friendship.

Narrate some stories with lessons

If you do not feel comfortable with directly asking them try to outline issues instead. Try to narrate some stories to them with moral lessons.

Because it is never a good idea to directly tell your child that they are not allowed to hang out with their friends. As we know, in this phase of life, teens are over emotional and over sensitive. May be they won’t listen to your advice in this matter.

Remind them of their self-worth and values

When children become aware of their self-worth and family values, they do not need any kind of friendship from such people and they will avoid such kind of toxic friends.

This will also help them to face challenges and have a good mental well-being.

Read more about these topics in our article How to Prepare your Teenager Face Challenges in Life and How to influence your teenager’s mental well-being, respectively.

Educate them about healthy and unhealthy relationships

Talk to your teen on how healthy relationship feels. Make them aware of the positives of a healthy relationship. Compare it with an unhealthy relationships. (do not compare it directly with your teens toxic friendship. It will only make them defensive).

Talk about relationships in general. Get ideas and knowledge on these subjects so you know what to talk and how to talk to your teen from our articles

  1. How-to help your teen to choose right friends
  2. How-to Talk to your Teen about Dating and Relationship

Make them aware of their relationship

Here is where the toxic friendship questionnaire will be of help to you. As committed above I will tell you how to tactfully use the questionnaire.

Smooth talk with your teen and bring up the issue that you feel that <name of the toxic friend> is not of the right influence on your teen.

Your teen would become defensive and try to defend the friendship.

Slip in the questionnaire and ask your teen to reply honestly to themselves the y/n questions in the questionnaire.

They can do it in private and need not even show it to you. If they share it with you, great. Else, respect their privacy.

The main reason for the questionnaire is to give some time for your teen to stop in their tracks and introspect on the relationship they are having.

Being aware of the problem is the first step towards working on the solution.

Help them establish ground rules with their friend

Help your teen to come up with and set ground rules based on what your teen thinks is acceptable for them.

Example if your teen feels that they can spend just half an hour with their friend everyday then that becomes the ground rule for the friendship.

Or If your teen feels that they would want to hang out with their friends only during weekends then that is another ground rule that they need to set with this toxic friend.

Encourage them to guard the boundaries

One of the key traits of toxic Friendship is that the toxic friend always tends to intrude and come inside the boundaries of your teen.

They usually will have no regards to boundaries or personal space. Encourage your teen to insist and demand from their friend that these boundaries are respected.

Call out when ever there is a breach on the boundaries and follow through with consequences if it is outlined.

Point them to – ways to break up

If your teen agrees that they like to break up their toxic friendship them show them different ways to do it. Ask them to choose what they feel is the best and let them stick to it.

They can Slowly withdraw by spending less and less time with their toxic friends till they are completely out of it.

Your teens toxic friendship can come to an end by your teen confronting their friend and taking their decision to move on and asking them to respect that decision.

In extreme cases where things have spiraled out of control or your teen’s toxic friendship is not coming to an end amicably, your teen can take drastic measures of cutting all ties, blocking numbers, unfriending them etc. If it becomes abusive, they can also take legal actions to get out of the friendship.

Know the course your teen is planning out and be supportive of their decision and watch out for relapse.

Partner with them and give them support

Partner with your teen in this journey. Give them the needful guidance at each stage. Help them go through with their decision.

You can also give them support by enrolling them for hobbies classes that can give them diversion from this ordeal. Give them opportunities to make new friends.

You can spend more time with them to fill in the void or gap and provide reassurance.

You can also help your teen (if your teen is ok with it) to confront your teen’s friend to put across your teen’s decision firmly.

Video Time:

watch the conversation between a Father and Son about Toxic Friends

Important note to parents

You can’t give orders to your teen about their friends. There is a strong possibility they won’t listen you. Even worse, they will hide it from you.

You must tackle this situation in a friendly way. Tell them the consequences about bad friends and ask them to take preventive measures about toxic friends.

The best way is to directly address the issue with your teen. Sit with your teen and tell them your feelings about the friend you don’t like. You can also ask what they feel about that friend.

May be your child feels the same thing and due to confusion or another hook, they are not able to come out or to decide.

Give direct open communication a shot.

Do not work on the sly. Take your teen along with you. Partner with them. Only then the result you get will be permanent.


Toxic friends as well as toxic relationships are a challenging situation for both parents and teens. To avoid these kinds of situations you should build a strong relationship with your child based on love and honesty and openness.

Be approachable and non-judgmental. Be present and an active listener.

 All this will result in you sharing a beautiful relationship with your teen. And they will end up openly talking about anything and everything with you. And you can nurture, mentor and guide them on every problem they are facing.


Adolescence is a phase of your child’s growth where you could face such kind of issues. Do not panic in such kinds of situations. With a well planned strategy you can easily save your child from their toxic friends. You should face this challenge with the right and positive attitude.

Exercise patience and work along with your teen. Be consistent and do not resort to treats or blackmail. A firm hand with a loving grip, and you will be able to save your teen from such relationships and position them for much healthy, positive and rewarding one.

God Bless!!

Thabitha David

Thabitha David

Mother, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Friend. She is a MBA Graduate specialized in Human Resources. She is a very proud mother of 3 Kids. (2 Teens & 1 Tween). She is a keen Observer of Life and is a blogger. She writes these articles based on her experience (Success and Failures). She does this with hope to help and ease the pain of at-least one parent as they face the challenges of parenting. Read more from the About Us Page

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1 Response

  1. August 25, 2020

    […] You can know more about these topics from my article’s How-to help your teen to choose right friends and How-To get rid of your teens Toxic Friendship. […]

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