Cliques can make school days rough for tweens and teens, but they’re no picnic for parents either. It hurts to see your child pushed off to the sidelines or facing peer pressures beyond your control.
Whether your child is being left out or running with the popular crowd, they need your support. After all, they’re learning about socialization as well as academic subjects when they go to school.
Try these tips for helping your child to look beyond cliques and start forming healthier connections.
Helping your Child to Deal with Cliques:
1. Empathize with their emotions. Feeling accepted is a high priority for most tweens and teens. They long to fit in, and may use their popularity to measure their worth. Think about your own adolescence and then factor in the impact of today’s social media. You’ll understand how much rejection can sting.
2. Watch for risky behavior. Cliques and their leaders exert a lot of power and their rules may be harmful. Be alert for signs of extreme dieting, bullying, or shoplifting.
3. Share your experiences. Let your child know that you went through similar trials back when you were in school. They may appreciate the solidarity and be more willing to open up.
4. Use stories. You can find lots of books, movies, and media stories to help you get your message across in an entertaining and compelling manner. Pick a recent title or suggest something that helped you when you were growing up. Be sure to discuss it afterwards.
5. Reach out to teachers. Ask your child’s teacher to talk about what they see going on at school. See if your school has resources that can help your family deal with cliques and related issues. Talk with other professionals, like guidance counselors or psychologists who work with adolescents.
6. Think long-term. Remind your child that high school is not forever. Cheer them up by giving them exciting things to look forward to. Send away for college brochures and plan campus visits. Use volunteer work and internships to start them thinking about the career of their dreams.
Helping your Child to Form Healthy Friendships:
1. Encourage outside activities. Balance out the influence of cliques by giving your child opportunities to pursue their interests and make friends in contexts other than school. Having diverse social circles can help them become more independent and inclusive.
2. Make your home inviting. Do your children feel comfortable bringing friends home? When you create a welcoming place to gather, your children have more chances to practice their social skills and interact with friends in a space where they feel secure.
3. Have deep conversations. Discuss big issues on an ongoing basis. Challenge each other to live up to your values, use power responsibly, and speak up for yourselves and others.
4. Act it out. Role playing can be an excellent way to explore complex subjects. Children can practice resolving conflicts without endangering their real friendships.
5. Start early. Children start forming attachments at a very young age. Even infants can benefit from having more face time with other babies, and toddlers can enjoy play dates or looking at books together.
6. Be a role model. Your children will learn from your example. When you cultivate positive connections, you teach your sons and daughters to do the same.
With your guidance, your child can maintain their confidence while they deal with cliques and prepare for more mature relationships in their adult life. Teach them how to be a good friend, treat others with kindness, and make their own decisions.