Experts have studied how and why cliques form for many years. Normally, there are one or two popular kids who control the clique; they have the say about who can and cannot be in the clique. Once a clique is formed, the children who belong to it may change their behavior, both at home and at school. Cliques are designed to make the kids who belong to them, feel superior to the other children. In turn, they make those who are left out feel bad about themselves. They not only feel left out, but they also feel like there might be something wrong with them because they weren’t chosen.
How to Handle Cliques
Parents are often not even aware that their children are involved in a clique. Once they do learn about it, they don’t know what to do. Should you tell your kids they can’t be in it anymore? Usually, that approach doesn’t work. You can’t watch your kids 24 hours per day. One thing that parents can do is to have a thoughtful conversation with their children. Ask them why they want to be in a clique. Ask them if they believe the clique makes other kids who are not part of it, feel bad about themselves.
Usually, if parents raise these questions in a calm, non-threatening tone, this will encourage the child to consider how their actions might be hurting another person at school. Just discuss the topic for a few moments and then allow your child to think about the answers for a few days. Children have a very clear sense of right and wrong. In most cases, they will come to the conclusion all by themselves, that cliques do make other children feel inferior and left out. Once they arrive at that conclusion, they will most likely want to leave the clique behind and they may have questions about how to do that.
Cliques and Bullying
Many times, bullying stems from cliquish behavior. Once children are in a clique, they often feel more important than those around them. This can lead them to push other kids around and take advantage of them. Though it can look like fun to be in a clique, very often being in a group like this will gradually change the personalities of the kids in them. These children may become more abrasive and less thoughtful and kind to others. Before you know it, bullying ensues, as these more important kids push around those who are inferior.
Communicate with Your Kids
Leaving others out can hurt their feelings but these types of actions and behaviors can be quickly nipped in the bud when parents are more in tune with what’s going on in their children’s lives. Most child psychologists recommend talking to your kids each day. Families used to gather around a dinner table every night and talk about their day but these days, you have to make time for communication. Stay on top of who your kids are hanging out with and what they’re interested in. In this busy workaday world, it can be so easy for families to lose touch with each other.
Make a point of staying involved in healthy activities each week with your children. Play games with them out in the backyard. Go for a walk and ask them how school is going. In poor weather, dig out the board games and spend a few hours playing Scrabble or Monopoly. These activities create positive, lasting memories for our children and families that play together stay together.