It can be a heartbreaking challenge to help your child cope with cliques at school. 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.
Feeling accepted is a high priority for most kids at any age. They may use their likeability as a measure of their worth. Think about your own adolescence and the challenges that came with it. Then add in the impact of today’s social media. You’ll understand how much rejection can sting and how all-encompassing it can feel to a child in this day and age.
Give Unconditional Love
Remind your child that no matter what he is loved and accepted at home. When your child has to cope with cliques it can lead to all types of insecurity and he may begin to question his self-worth. He can feel alone and as if he doesn’t belong anywhere. Reassure him that no matter what he does, he is valuable and loved.
Discuss what they can do
Remind your child the only person they can really change in their life is themselves. He has no control over the other person and what they will say or do. He has total control over how she chooses to respond. Work with your child on ways to overcome the bully. Give advice, but be sure not to take over and remedy the situation for him.
Boost your child’s confidence
If your child is having trouble with cliques it can mean he values what someone else thinks of him more than his own opinion of himself. Help your child cope with cliques by boosting his confidence.
Watch for risky behavior
Cliques and their leaders exert a lot of power over their peers and their rules may be harmful. It can be overwhelming for their victims because they seem to have total control, especially with social media. Even if your child is not on social media, the clique members may be on and causing damage. This can leave a child to feel helpless and start acting out in various ways. Be alert for signs of stress in your child including extreme dieting, behavior different from their norm, or not able to sleep.
Empathize with your child
Our children tend to forget that we were once kids too with many of the same experiences. Let your child know your own trials in schools. He may appreciate the solidarity and be more willing to open up if he knows you also had to cope with cliques. Be cautious though and make sure you don’t use this as an opportunity to minimize what they are going through but rather to empathize and let your child know he is not alone.
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 afterward.
If your child just isn’t open to the idea then you can always leave books and videos laying around the house. Your child may be more receptive to picking up a book if he is reading it on his own, unencumbered by a parent watching over his shoulder.
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 child cope with cliques and related issues. Talk with other professionals, like guidance counselors or psychologists who work with adolescents.
Seek additional help
Think of other family members or trusted friends that can talk to your child. Particularly as your child gets into his teen years, he may more apt to open up to someone else in your circle of friends and family than he is to you. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that confusing stage of adolescent independence we call growing up.
So many times when we volunteer or give back then we don’t have time to think of our own problems. The same is true for your child.
Get him involved in activities and groups he enjoys. He will be able to give something more of himself which will boost his confidence and allow him to do more than focus on his problems.
Plus, he just may make some new friends along the way and expand his circle of influence in his life, and build leadership skills. More on this below when we discuss how to Help your Child Form Healthy Friendships.
Look at the big picture
Remind your child that the school years don’t last forever. Cheer him up by having exciting things to look forward to in the not so distant future.
If your child is a teenager, send away for college brochures and plan campus visits.
If your child is in middle school, remind him that soon he will be in high school and while some of the same cliques will exist, he will also have a whole new group of fresh faces.
Having at least one friend can go a long way for a child to help cope with cliques at school or other environments.
When the whole world seems against you, I think we can all agree it’s easier with at least one good friend. But how do you help your child to find that friend and furthermore, how do you help him to develop lasting relationships?
Encourage outside activities
Balance out the influence of cliques by giving your child opportunities to pursue their interests and make friends in places other than school. Having diverse social circles can help them become more independent. Explore other ways to develop your child’s independence.
Make your home inviting
Do your children feel comfortable bringing their 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.
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.
Act it out
Role-playing can be an excellent way to explore complex subjects. Children can practice resolving conflicts without endangering their real friendships.
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.
Be a role model
Your children will learn from your example. When you cultivate positive connections in your own life, 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.