Cliques

What is a clique? A clique is a group of friends that hang out together and are usually not welcoming to newcomers. Exclusion is important for the clique since it makes its members stick together by keeping others out. It is the noticeable group, the one every child wishes to join but is often rejected. Cliques have rules, as they determine how their members dress, how they look, how they behave, who is in, who is out.

What happens within a clique?
A clique is an exclusive group, this exclusivity helps to keep its members together since being part of the group provides them with social membership, self-importance and social standing. This is increasingly important as children grow, since they naturally become more independent from their family and they need more peer support. This transition brings insecurity and affects the child’s self esteem, and it is most intense as they approach their teens.

What is membership? Membership is defined as group belonging, it provides a social place with peers.

In a clique, membership is based on specific norms or terms of conduct that become the conditions for inclusion, and if they are not followed they may bring on exclusion.

Can belonging to a clique become oppressive? The terms of conduct required to belong to a clique are sometimes oppressive of being oneself, particularly when they dictate the way to behave, what to believe, what to agree with, what to follow along, what to hide (never tell on any leader of the clique), what to like or dislike, who to like and who to dislike, how to look (appearance), peer preferences (always like clique leaders and members best), not have competing outside friends, never do better than clique members-especially clique leaders, submit to clique leaders.

All these terms of membership imply that a child must give up individual freedom, and many times being honest with themselves.

This pressure to belong and follow a clique’s rules may take a child to do things they don’t want to do because they know they are wrong. This peer pressure can take children to do things they just would not do, but they feel they don’t have a choice. Belonging is so important that they go to great lengths in doing, and not doing things, just for not being excluded!

Members that fear exclusion have to be extremely careful in not being unique, not standing out; they need to be informed in the clique’s members events, usually through social media, to know how to act or what to say to or about an event or issue; saying something without thinking might result in producing an enemy in the clique; changing alliances is risky too.

Exclusion feels terrible and is devastating to children!!!
It is much worse when a child was a member of a clique, since all his/her efforts and energy were focused on belonging to the clique, many times hurting others that otherwise would become his/her friends at this time. This situation leaves the child devastated, empty, alone, excluded…
What is popularity? Popularity is a measure of social standing based on how many peers want to be someone’s friend. It is also a measure of inclusion.

There are different ways of being popular, it depends in what group one wants to be popular in. When a group values good grades, hard work, following rules, etc, one can be popular in that group by excelling in those traits, these groups are usually formed by parents and teachers. When a group values looks, possessions, dress, coolness, sports and social skills, then one should excel in such traits to be popular. These are valued traits usually within adolescent groups and cliques.

When a child is a friend of other popular children, he or she is seen as popular too; and when a child is friends with unpopular children he or she can be seen as unpopular and can be excluded from the “popular groups” or cliques.

A child can become an excluder when they fear being excluded from the group they want to belong. What they don’t understand is that by excluding someone they are denying themselves the opportunity of knowing someone that can be a good friend, limiting their own association abilities and possibilities. Not only are they limiting their acquaintances, but they are limiting their own individual growth.

In a clique, members are together valuing certain characteristics, and getting similarity within the group. All members look, act, think and say similar things. This makes it impossible for a member to show any sign of individuality: it limits the possibility of a member to be different from the others. When this happens, the pressures within the clique to be similar grow, and the possibility of someone to express their individuality is denied, limiting the member’s social exposure. This is how belonging to a clique becomes so oppressive.

In a social environment there are different groups, based on common interests, activities, etc. There are different popularity levels between the groups, some are perceived as the most popular groups and others are considered merely unpopular. Not all groups are cliques, many groups do not have the same membership requirements that cliques have.
Hierarchy in a Clique

Although they all look, act, think and speak in the same way, not everyone is the same in a clique. A clique has a hierarchical system having the clique’s leaders at the top, the “wannabe’s” or the ones who aspire to be leaders, and the clique’s buddies.

* Leaders: they are dominant, they work hard to maintain their influence, position and image
to keep their leadership.

* Wannabe’s: they want to be leaders, so they make a huge effort in getting the favor of the leaders,
making sure their rivals don’t get it.

* Buddies: they follow the leaders and wannabes, they form the supporting audience to their leaders;
and they take stoically, fearing exclusion, all the meanness directed to them.

It is not easy to be part of a harsh clique, it takes great effort and it limits the child’s self development and growth possibilities.

Exclusion Is Also Bullying!

Exclusion is the act of someone, the excluder, rejecting another, the excluded, who wants to have a relationship with them. When this rejection is held over time, it is an aggression in itself that is being repeated over and over again, it is a silent and often unnoticeable kind of bullying. Exclusion is also bullying!

This is most common in cliques.

A clique is a group of friends that hang out together and are usually not welcoming to newcomers. Exclusion is important for the clique since it makes its members stick together by keeping others out. It is the noticeable group, the one every child wishes to join but is often rejected. Cliques have rules, as they determine how their members dress, how they look, how they behave, who is in, who is out.

Cliques generate great pressure to belong and follow the clique’s rules, it may take a child to do things he/she doesn’t want to do because he/she knows they are wrong. This peer pressure can take children to do things they just would not do, but they feel they don’t have a choice. Belonging is so important that they go to great lengths in doing, and not doing things, just for not being excluded!

Members that fear exclusion have to be extremely careful in not being unique, not standing out; they need to be informed in the clique’s members events, usually through social media, to know how to act or what to say to or about an event or issue; saying something without thinking might result in producing an enemy in the clique; changing alliances is risky too.

Exclusion feels terrible and is devastating to children!
A child who dreams of joining the clique, but is constantly excluded, feels frustrated, angry and sad, and is often humiliated by the clique members’ exclusion. Exclusion separates the child from hanging around with the ones he/she wants, becoming the outsider.

It is much worse when a child was a member of a clique, since all his/her efforts and energy were focused on belonging to the clique, many times hurting others that otherwise would become his/her friends at this time. This situation leaves the child devastated, empty, alone, excluded…
Exclusion can have serious detrimental effects:
When a child is rejected, they feel inadequate;
When a child is not allowed to join a group, they feel unpopular;
When a child is constantly ignored, they feel isolated and alone.

This is a terrible scenario for the child’s self esteem, which gets negatively affected by this situation.

Helping Your Child If He/She Is A Bully

The Bully

It is known that bullies don’t have a very promissory future. They have a higher risk of substance abuse like alcohol and drugs in their adolescence and adult years; they are more likely to get into fights, drop out of school and destroy property; they engage in sexual activity at a younger age, they have a higher likelihood to be involved in crime, and when adults, they’re usually abusive towards their romantic partners, spouses and children.

It is important to remember that bullies often come from homes where they have minimal parental attention and warmth, where discipline is random and physical punishment is common, as well as anger outbursts. These living conditions cause the children to be distrustful, and to have limited ability to have empathy and to delay gratification.

Bullies have to acknowledge that their behavior will continue to have negative consequences until they change it. Once they do, they may be open to accept help.

How can a bully be helped?

To help a bully the first step is to make them recognize their own actions, then they have to understand what effect such actions have in themselves. As they develop anxiety that enforces that they don’t want to get in trouble again, they can change their actions to avoid trouble, so they find other ways to satisfy their needs. Once all this has happened, they can acknowledge what are the effects of their actions on the others, and then develop guilt over that. Finally a bully can learn to trust others and delay gratification, forming positive relationships with adults that actually help them.

All these steps can be accomplished with structured counseling, reasoning on the aggressive behaviors and consistent consequences on such behaviors.

Asking the bully why, pleading to change their behaviors, making them apologize to their victims, and enforcing their self-esteem, as well as expressing frustration will NOT HELP! It might actually make things worse.

Instead, one can ask the bully the following questions: What did you do? Why was that a bad thing to do? Who did you hurt? What did you try to accomplish with that? Next time you have that goal, how will you accomplish it without hurting anyone? This way, one can help the bully go through each one of the steps mentioned above.

Related Articles:

  •  Understanding Bullying
  •  Why Bullies are Bullies?
  •  Why do Bullying Victims Don’t Tell?
  •  Helping your Child if he/she is a Victim of Bullying
  •  Exclusion is Also Bullying!
  •  Cliques
  •  Cyberbullying

Helping Your Child If He/She Is A Victim Of Bullying

What makes a child a likely target for bullying? As we know, the main characteristic a bully seeks for in a victim is vulnerability, that is the likeliness that the bully can hurt this child without a retributory hurtful action from this child.

If your child is a victim of bullying, it is helpful to determine what makes him or her seem vulnerable so that you can think of a way of changing what can be changed regarding that specific quality.

How can my child stop being perceived as vulnerable? In terms of what others perceive of a person, body language is a key element, so help your child have an assertive body language by looking confident.

This can be achieved through:

* Posture by standing tall with shoulders back and holding arms an legs in a relaxed
and confident way.

* Facial expression, by hiding scared looks, as well as upset and/or angry feelings.
Keeping a cool expression.

* Looking at people when they talk, especially the bully

* Answering back assertively, using “I” statements with a firm and strong voice,
always being respectful and showing strength.

* Leaving for safety, walking in a confident way towards someone that can help.

What is the best way to approach my child? To have a conversation with your child you must generate empathy, take your child’s words seriously paying attention and really understanding what he or she is saying, please don’t get to conversation-ending statements like “there’s nothing to be afraid of” or “it will go away”.

Remember, bullied children have many reasons for not telling, so you might need to help your child express his or her situation through questions.

Make sure that your child is being bullied and not just bothered in a non-recurring way. You can achieve this also through questions, getting facts about each event. Take notes about those facts, they will be helpful in determining how to approach the situation.

Having had a thorough conversation in which you both understand the situation, you and your child should develop a plan of action in which you both agree. Please do not act without your child’s agreement, your child’s opinion is extremely important.

Remember to be supportive all along, helping your child stay safe through plans and strategies that work.

Specific recommendations are found in the Caregiver Instructions Manual of our Bullying programs.

Why Bullied Victims Don’t Tell?

It is important to understand why bullying victims don’t tell a responsible adult. Usually children don’t believe that an adult, especially in school, like a teacher will intervene when they are told about bullying. Sadly this is sometimes true.

Some schools and legal rulings say bullying and/or cyberbullying is not part of school policy, but this is changing since it is actually being noticed that it does interfere “materially and substantially” with the process of learning.

Children often choose not to tell an adult because of reasons such as:

* Fearing revenge from the bully

* Shame in that they cannot stand for themselves

* Fear they will not be believed by the adult

* Thinking that the adult and his/her advice will worsen the problem

* Believing that nothing will change

* Fear that the adult will tell the bully that he/she told on him/her

* Not wanting to worry their parents or caregivers

* Thinking they will be called a snitch or tattle tale

If the bullying is online, or using technology, children don’t tell their parents or caregivers because of reasons like:

* Don’t want to be held responsible for the problem

* Fear caregivers will simply get rid of the “source” of the problem, and they
don’t want to give up their computers and cell phones

* Another concern children have in telling an adult they trust is that the adults will
be reluctant to intercede on their behalf

* Fear the adult simply doesn’t know what to do, especially when dealing with
technology

Unfortunately, these concerns are soundly based: Parents usually don’t know how to respond; teachers are afraid to respond on something that happens “away” from school, and law enforcement is also unlikely to get involved since it is hard to have a good articulation of the violation, as this will likely be considered something that goes against freedom of expression.

If there is an imminent threat to the safety of a child in either case, one must call the police. It is no joke!

Witnesses don’t tell because of fear of becoming the next target for the bully, or because they don’t feel responsible.