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Discouraging Cliques at School

Many parents see cliques as social circles, groups within which children interact. Unfortunately, cliques are nowhere near as innocent as this description makes them seem. A source of bullying, peer pressure, and isolation, cliques are often groups of judgmental children that accept one another based not upon friendship, but based upon a social hierarchy that inevitably produces outcasts, hurt feelings, and cruel behavior.

No Child is Too Young to Feel Hurt by Cliques

Though most people wouldn't associate kindergarteners with cliques, the fact is that cliques occur within every age group. If a child attends school or any other organized program in which many children are enrolled, chances are they have experienced one side or another of clique cruelty. Choosing who is "in" and who is "out" based upon clothing, toys, and popularity, among other superficial criteria, is a dangerous practice that hurts the feelings of children all over the world every day.

Parenting Tips to Discourage Cliques:

  • Instilling proper values. Society often promotes values that parents don't necessarily want their children to identify with, and cliques perpetuate these shallow values in a way that encourages children to buy into them. By encouraging a healthy and meaningful value system from the beginning, you can help your children choose their friends based not upon social value, but upon personal value.
  • Encouraging new friendships. Because cliques focus on the commonalities of children, one way to combat them is to promote the foundation of friendships with a variety of children. Teach your child to appreciate the unique gifts that every friend has to offer and to view other children as individuals, not as members of a group. Maintaining a good relationship with the teacher can also give you an ally when it comes to fighting off the effects of cliques.
  • Build up confidence. If your child lacks a high enough level of confidence, he or she will not be able to stand up against the inappropriate behavior of others. Remaining outside of a clique can be difficult for children who want to fit in with their peers, but if your child has a great level of self-confidence, he or she will be able to recognize his or her own personal value.

Encouraging a Healthy Social Life without Cliques

Young children learn many important social cues from their parents and carry these ideals with them when the transition to school. Leading by example and exposing your kids to a large variety of people, cultures, and activities will promote a level of acceptance that they must possess in order to steer clear of the cruelty of cliques.