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Health Information For Parents
Friendship is an important part of kids’ development. Having friends helps them be independent beyond the family and prepares them for the mutual, trusting relationships we hope they’ll establish as adults.
Groups of friends are different from cliques in some important ways.
Members of the clique usually follow the leader’s rules, whether it’s wearing particular clothes or doing certain activities. Cliques usually involve lots of rules — implied or clearly stated — and intense pressure to follow them.
Kids in cliques often worry about whether they’ll still be popular or whether they’ll be dropped for doing or saying the wrong thing or for not dressing in a certain way. This can create a lot of pressure. Kids may be pressured to take risks like steal, pull pranks, or bully other kids in order to stay in the clique. Kids also can be pressured into buying expensive clothing or getting involved in online gossip and teasing.
Cliques are often at their most intense in middle school and junior high, but problems with cliques can start as early as 4th and 5th grades.
For most kids, the pre-teen and teen years are a time to figure out how they want to fit in and how they want to stand out. It’s natural for kids to occasionally feel insecure; long to be accepted; and hang out with the kids who seem more attractive, cool, or popular.
But cliques can cause long-lasting trouble when:
As kids navigate friendships and cliques, there’s plenty parents can do to offer support. If your child seems upset, or suddenly spends time alone when usually very social, ask about it.
Here are some tips:
If your child is part of a clique and one of the kids is teasing or rejecting others, it’s important to address that right away. With popular TV shows from talent contests to reality series glorifying rude behavior, it’s an uphill battle for families to promote kindness, respect, and compassion.
Discuss the role of power and control in friendships and try to get to the heart of why your child feels compelled to be in that position. Discuss who is in and who is out, and what happens when kids are out (are they ignored, shunned, bullied?). Challenge kids to think and talk about whether they’re proud of the way they act in school.
Ask teachers, guidance counselors, or other school officials for their perspective on what is going on in and out of class. They might be able to tell you about any programs the school has to address cliques and help kids with differences get along.
Here are some ways to encourage kids to have healthy friendships and not get too caught up in cliques:
Remember to provide the big-picture perspective too. As hard as cliques might be to deal with now, things can change quickly. What’s more important is making true friends — people they can confide in, laugh with, and trust. And the real secret to being “popular” — in the truest sense of the word — is for them to be the kind of friend they’d like to have: respectful, fair, supportive, caring, trustworthy, and kind.
Are you on the outside looking in or the inside wanting out? Find out how to deal with cliques in this article for teens.
No one likes a bully. Find out how to handle them in this article for kids.
Everyone has a bad day at school once in a while, but some kids really don’t like school. Read this article for kids to find out more.
Strong self-esteem is a child’s armor against the challenges of the world. Here’s how to build healthy self-esteem in your kids.
Unfortunately, bullying is a common part of childhood. But parents can help kids cope with it and lessen its lasting impact.
Whether bullying is physical or verbal, if it’s not stopped it can lead to more aggressive antisocial behavior – and interfere with a child’s success in school and ability to form and sustain friendships.
Cyberbullying is the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass or target another person. Here are some suggestions on what to do if online bullying has become part of your child’s life.
Using technology to bully is a problem that’s on the rise. The good news is awareness of how to prevent cyberbullying is growing even faster. See our tips on what to do.
Eating disorders are common among teens and kids, especially young women. Read about the warning signs, prevention strategies, and ways to help a child with an eating disorder.
A clique is a group of kids who hang out together. It’s kind of like a club. The trouble is, the leaders of a clique won’t let everyone join. Find out how to handle cliques in this article for kids.
Did you ever feel like another kid was trying to get you to do something you didn’t want to do? If so, you’ve felt peer pressure. Find out more in this article for kids.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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