Signs of Fake Friends

Teaching your child how to identify fake friends and avoid bullying

Isolated teenage schoolgirl in corridor
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Today's kids live in a world where bullying and cyberbullying are everywhere. People deceive and mistreat one another all the time. As a result, it should not be shocking to learn that your kids must deal with mean girls, frenemies, and even fake friends every day.

Fake friends are frauds that use other people. They also tend to be one-dimensional and part of cliques. For this reason, it is important that kids know the difference between real friends and fake ones.

Being associated with a fake friend often results in being bullied. 

Here is a list of characteristics to review with your kids. If their friends have these traits, then it is time to start building some new relationships.

“Fake friends are selfish.” Typically, a fake friend will only contact your child when they want or need something. Rarely, will they text or call for other reasons. Be sure your child knows that if a friend never calls or texts just to check in then that person is not really a friend at all. Most likely, that person is using your child in some way. 

“Fake friends thrive on gossip and drama.” Stress to your kids that if someone enjoys gossiping about others, then they may be gossiping behind their backs as well. Gossiping and spreading rumors has serious consequences and is at the base of relational aggression and other types of bullying. Be sure your kids know that they should avoid friendships with people who thrive on gossip or drama.

“Fake friends require you to pretend.” The hallmark of a healthy friendship is that your child can be herself. If your children feel like they have to wear a mask or cannot be authentic, then that is the sign of fake friends. In other words, if your child has to talk or dress differently in order to fit in with these friends, then they are not true friends.

They are probably part of a clique instead of a group of friends. Remember, fake friends often resort to peer pressure, which then leads to bullying, ostracizing and other forms of relational aggression.

“Fake friends lie.” Many times, fake friends do not feel good about who they are so they lie about their accomplishments, their grades, their clothes, their possessions – anything to make themselves look better. And if they lie about themselves, they will lie about your child too. Be sure your child knows that if they catch a friend in multiple lies, it is probably not a healthy friendship. It is hard to trust a liar and trust is essential in a healthy friendship

“Fake friends are critical.” If their friends are constantly criticizing them, it is time to take a closer look at the friendship. Real friends are supportive and encouraging, but fake friends often criticize. Girls, in particular, are guilty of being critical about weight or weight bullying. This type of bullying is particularly dangerous because it can lead to eating disorders or even self-harming behavior.

“Fake friends are not happy when you succeed.” If your kids’ friends have something insulting to say every time your kids succeed, then they are not real friends. Real friends celebrate one another’s accomplishments.

“Fake friends are not trustworthy.” Usually, good friends will keep one another’s secrets. In other words, real friends do not tell the world who your child is crushing on. If your child’s friends are always spilling the beans, then it is time to questioning whether that friend is a bully.

“Fake friends rarely have your back.” Real friends will stick up for one another, especially when faced with bullying. Meanwhile, a fake friend will either be a quiet bystander to the bullying or may even take part in the bullying. If this is a regular occurrence, your child should consider talking with their friend about being so passive or start looking for another group of friends.

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