Mental Health America of Porter County is acknowledging cliques in schools for this month’s Building Up Our Youth (BUOY) article. With the new school year in full swing everyone is excited to see their friends again. But what about all those cliques: the jocks, the popular kids, the emo kids, the Goths, the nerds, the geeks, and the possibility that you don’t fit into any of those? Some are great while others can really make a person feel alienated from their peers. Cliques are defined as a small group of friends who share common interest. Sometimes those interests can be positive, like sports or music, or they could be negative, like bullying or drugs. According to aboutourkids.org, “cliques can have a strong positive effect on self-worth. But, cliques can also cause its members to be hostile to those who do not belong in their clique, thus making them feel belittled.”
Cliques can sometimes bully those who seem “different” than the members in their group. This bullying can come in different forms, such as: verbal threats (teasing and name calling), physical threats (hitting and restraining), and nonverbal/nonphysical threats (making faces and excluding someone). Sometimes though, cliques can have very positive effects on making our youth feel like they belong. It can make them feel important, and even needed. According to aboutourkids.org, “Cliques can even boost a person’s self-esteem. Someone with any type of social disorder can really benefit from a positive clique. It can help them learn how to socially interact with others, and in the long run, naturally treat their social disorder.” The Akron’s Children Hospital (http://inside.akronchildrens.org) gives very good tips on helping teens cope with cliques.
Reinforce to your kids what true friendship is. Demonstrate that you value being nice to others and not excluding anyone.
Encourage them to get involved with different groups or activities outside of school, such as church youth groups and other clubs or teams. Besides developing new skills and interests, they’ll learn how to relate to others in new social situations. This will also help them to become better-rounded so their entire sense of self is not based on how popular they are.
Enjoy time together to make your children feel valued and loved.
Role-play together regarding how to handle situations where they’re excluded or picked on.
Allow your kids to work things out on their own. However, if you’re concerned that bullying has gone too far and your child is in real danger of physical or emotional harm, don’t hesitate to intervene. As a first step, notify your child’s principal or teacher about the situation.
Mental Health America of Porter County offers programs that can assist individuals and families. Building Up Our Youth (BUOY) is dedicated to teaching adults how to instill positive self-esteem and security in the youth around them. For more information about BUOY or our other services please contact Joshua A. Volk, Program Director at 462-6267 or email@example.com.