HELPING YOUR CHILD DEAL WITH CLIQUES
If cliques are upsetting you, what can you do?
- Find friends. If you find yourself left out of a certain group, focus on other friends. Hang out with kids who aren’t part of a clique. Sometimes this means finding older or younger kids to hang out with, or making friends outside school. Sometimes it means being open to kids who look or act differently than you do.
- Speak up. If your group of friends has suddenly turned into a clique, speak up. It’s OK to say that you want to invite others to hang out with you, too. Be prepared for the fact that the clique might go on without you. On the other hand, others might follow your lead and stop acting so clique-y. Most schools have counselors and policies to help cliques from getting out of hand — maybe you could become an advisor or advocate, or write about it in the school paper.
- Invite a friend. If you’re on the outside of a clique and you want to be friends with someone who’s in it, invite that person to do something with you. It might help if you can see your friend away from the other clique members. Maybe your mom or dad could arrange to have that friend visit at your house on the weekend. By spending time together, he or she might start realizing how silly it is not to hang out more often. But also be prepared for possible disappointment. Even if you have a great time together, your friend might still slip back into the clique when you’re all back at school.
- Don’t take it out on yourself. Some kids feel they should try to change themselves — and that’s OK too. Maybe you want to get healthy and fit or learn to smile more and be less cranky — it’s great to work on yourself, but do it for you, not for anyone else. If some kids are mean to you because they think you don’t fit in, don’t let them make decisions about the kind of kid you are going to be. Decide for yourself and then get help to reach your goals. Ask a cool cousin or friend to help you revamp your wardrobe or get a new haircut. But only change yourself if it’s something you want to do.
- Look for friends everywhere. The most popular and well-liked kids are the ones who are friendly to everyone. Do your best to let everyone feel welcome to talk to you. Look for chances to meet, talk with, and play with plenty of different kids. Is someone sitting alone at lunch? Why not ask her to sit at your table? Or maybe you noticed the kid standing outside the fence while you’re playing basketball. It’s time to invite him onto the court. Who knows — maybe the two of you will really click (which means to get along really well). Now that’s a much better kind of click!