Coping with Cliques at School

Every school as cliques, and unfortunately, every child will be introduced to them at some point. Cliques aren’t necessarily bad, but children who are both inside and outside of a clique can be effected negatively.

Andrew Harper, MD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, and medical director at the UT Harris County Psychiatric Center says that, “Cliques serve a function to help children feel like they are fitting in, some cliques may motivate kids to perform in school, if your child is part of the academically gifted clique. And cliques might influence them to do other positive things”.

Helping Your Child Navigate Cliques 

Your child has needs that can be met by cliques. Here are some tips about the dynamics of cliques:

  • Positive roles. Harper stresses that the need for belonging and acceptance is powerful. That’s why it is a good idea to help your children understand the positive role they can play in their own clique, even if they don’t belong to a clique at the top of the school hierarchy.
  • Understand strengths. Every child has strengths, interests, and talents that can help them survive and thrive in school cliques. Help your child find groups with similar values or interests, perhaps by coordinating after-school activities such as sports, faith, or scouts programs.
  • Reach out. If your child just doesn’t seem to fit in, is withdrawing, or shows signs of fear or anxiety about school, consider an underlying depression or anxiety problem. Seek help from a medical professional, counselor, or psychiatrist.

Should You Be Worried? 

“The problem becomes when the sole purpose of the clique is to exercise power — by excluding and being mean to others. That creates an adverse dynamic for those who are on the outside, but even inside it can create the anxiety of ‘What if I get kicked out?'” says Harper.

Most young people will have times when they are part of a clique and times when they are not. If your child’s clique has thrown them out or simply fallen apart, you can talk to your child about this painful learning experience. Just remember to:

  • Be strategic. Focus on emphasizing and building on your child’s strengths.
  • Discuss coping strategies. Remind your child life is full of people who may not like you, but you have to find ways to get back into the swing of life.

“The kids that really have a lot of difficulty are those who feel like they don’t fit in anywhere,” says Harper. The children who don’t fit in anywhere are more likely to end up in one of the undesirable cliques and turn to substance abuse.

If you child feels they don’t fit in anywhere it can be hard to make them understand that their desired clique isn’t the only place they can gain recognition. Always highlight your child’s strengths and encourage involvement in activities that could help them shake this belief.

Tips were taken from

About Brittney:

Brittany was born and raised in Alabama. She is a Wife and Mama of two sweet babies- her son John is two years old and her daughter Annie is ten months old. She has her degree in Home and Family Studies with an emphasis on Child Development from BYU.




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