Friendships, Cliques and Grade-schoolers
How kids can make and keep friendships with classmates, plus how they can cope with the mean behavior of cliques.
By: Gregory Germain, MD
Gone are the days of toddler “parallel play” when kids played alongside, yet hardly noticed, each other. Now you can assume that your child’s friends will have a large influence on her life. Some of the kids that your child makes friends with now will remain her friends well into high school—and beyond.
When friends become cliques
At this time in your child’s life, his peers begin to influence him. While good relationships with same-sex friends are a positive influence on your child, sadly—but unsurprisingly—sometimes friends band into cliques. And those cliques can become exclusionary and oftentimes hurtful to people not in the “group.” (They’re are much more common among girls than boys.)
If your daughter is on the outside looking in on one of these cliques, it can be painful and alienating. Be there for her, listen to her and talk to her teacher(s) about your concerns.
Helping grade-schoolers feel included
If your child is intimidated by the groups at school, it is a good idea to raise her self-esteem, praise her uniqueness and make her feel included as part of another group. How?
- Enroll her in a special activity after school, such as scouting, a sports team, horseback riding orsomething else she is interested in pursuing. While having fun, she can make new friends and learn new skills.
- Have a party for her friends at your house. Involve your child with all the details such as choosing invitations, food and decorations.
- Encourage your child to be friends with everyone at school; have her invite kids over for play dates once a week, no matter what “group” they are in. Get play date ideas.