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Elementary School Cliques

Help Your Child Cope With Cliques

Chances are, you're still dealing with cliques (small groups of people who -- whether intentionally or not -- exclude others). They pop up at work, in your neighborhood, and even among your friends, and while they can be annoying, they're easier to dismiss as an adult.

A child's first introduction to them, however, can be humbling. Cliques begin forming in elementary school and hit their peak between sixth and eighth grades, says psychologist Michael Thompson, author of the book "Mom, They're Teasing Me: Helping Your Child Solve Social Problems." They're usually more of an issue for girls than boys.

Kids are drawn to cliques because of their desire to fit in. They set the standard in terms of what kids wear, how they behave, how they speak, what music they listen to, and what movies they see. Sometimes cliques are harmless, but, frequently, the kids in cliques can be mean to the "less popular" children who are not accepted into the group.

According to Thompson, you can help your child cope with cliques in the following ways:

  • Focus on friendship. Remind your child that true friendship is more important than the popularity that may come from being accepted into a clique.
  • Emphasize kindness, empathy, and inclusion. Talk with your child about how feelings can be hurt when people are excluded from groups.
  • Discuss peer pressure. Help your child identify and understand peer pressure and its ability to push kids to do things they may not want to do.
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