Humans are designed by nature to compete against each other for dominance and control. While this primordial urge has been suppressed in many people thanks to modern social mores, it still rears its ugly head particularly during adolescence when children are learning how to engage and get along with each other.
Cliques are an unfortunate yet still common part of many kids’ pre-teen and teenage years. You can help your own children effectively deal with adolescent cliques by using these simple yet straightforward parenting tips.
Enroll Your Kids in Extracurricular Activities
Kids who have nothing to fill their time outside of school with are more prone to boredom and apathy. They may be more apt to join a clique simply to amuse themselves or give themselves something to do during their downtime.
Once they join a clique, however, they may find themselves completely subjugated to the whims of the leaders. If they refuse to join in the antics, they could be subject to bullying, ridicule, and ousting.
Rather than allow your children to busy themselves with a clique, you can keep them preoccupied and fill their time by putting them in extracurricular activities, such as:
- music lesson
- dance lessons
- after-school groups
- volunteer activities
These activities give them something more constructive to do with their time and also make it more difficult for them to join in a clique since their attention will be drawn elsewhere.
Extracurricular activities also help kids learn social mechanisms like tolerance and patience while giving them confidence in their creative or athletic abilities. They may find that cliques are a waste of time and something of which they do not want to be a part.
Adolescent cliques rely on subjugation and group thought for their survival. The leaders need every member of the clique to think and act alike and to readily agree to carry out the whims and wishes of the designated leadership. They want everyone in the clique to be dependent on the leaders rather than think for themselves.
For that very reason, you should encourage your children to think and act independently so that they avoid falling prey to cliques. Teens who are not afraid of being individuals rather than proverbial sheep stand apart from cliques and indeed are less desirable to peers who want to control what others think and do.
You can instill independence from an early age through simple measures like assigning chores for which your kids are solely responsible or by asking their input on matters like what to have for dinner or what clothes they want to buy for their wardrobes. These small acts early in childhood can build a foundation of independence and assertiveness that teens and pre-teens need to resist joining adolescent cliques later.
The Shakespearean quote from Hamlet “To thine own self be true” definitely comes into play when you want to steer your kids clear of adolescent cliques. One of the key reasons for why kids join cliques in the first place is to fit in and to gain an identity that makes them feel important and unique.
Your children do not need a clique to define who they are or what they are all about, however. You can help them discover their own self-identity by encouraging their autonomy early in life. By teaching your children to be proud of who they are and encouraging them to ponder on what they like, what they are interested in, and what kind of personality they naturally have, you help them discover their own identity and be proud of it.
This self-discovery helps them realize that cliques are nothing more than a means to control who they are, what they think, and how they behave. They will avoid cliques because they already have an identity of which they can be proud.
Another reason that kids join adolescent cliques is to gain praise and recognition that they might not receive elsewhere. They need that affirmation because they do not get it at home from their parents or at school from teachers.
You can deal with cliques effectively by praising your kids for what they do right and for the positive talents that they naturally possess or perfect over time. Your praise should be honest and not embellished simply to make them feel good about themselves. When they realize that they have your approval and that they should be proud of what they are capable of in life, they have no need to seek that affirmation or approval elsewhere especially from a clique.
Adolescence cliques consist of members who look, talk, act, and think the same. This uniformity is strictly enforced and does not allow for anyone or anything to divert from the expressed wishes and commands of the group leaders.
When you want to give your kids the tools to resist cliques, you can start by encouraging them to accept and embrace diversity. Making friends with people who are different than they are or who have lives that vary from the lives your kids live at home can be an eye-opening yet positive goal. By learning to accept and be friends with people who are not like them and who have different ways of thinking, acting, speaking, and living, your kids are more likely to resist joining a clique.
Monitor Your Kids’ Friends
Finally, as a parent you can deal with cliques simply by monitoring your kids’ friends. Pay attention with whom they are hanging out and spending time. If you suspect that your children are part of a clique, you have the right as a parent to disengage them from it and limit or cut off the contact they have with those friends.
These simple parenting tips can be effective when dealing with adolescent cliques. They give your kids the social tools they need to resist joining such groups. They also give you the means as a parent to guide and oversee the people with whom your children spend time at school and elsewhere.