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Clique Here: Helping Your Child Cope With Cliques

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Heading back to school may have you (parents) sighing with relief, but may leave many children simply sighing. Reconnecting with new friends can prove for many just as “stressful” as making new ones. Remember, children have had an entire summer away from many of their classmates, and for many, many new changes have taken place in their lives. You child may be trying to cope not only with the “anxiety” of a new school year and the academic challenges that lie ahead, but how he or she will be received by peers and how he or she will stand up to the “cool crowd”….his or her biggest fear, being picked on and being excluded. While experts say that cliques are a natural and normal part of the “growing up” process (as children start establishing their own identity and individuality by focusing on themselves and their peers), they’ve received renewed attention with certain recent incidences that show just how impactful they can be.

Developing Coping Skills: The largest adversary at large (to your child) is a low self-esteem. A poor self-image can contribute to everything from shyness and poor scholastic performance, to depression (and other personality “disorders”), anger, getting involved with the wrong crowd and even becoming a prime target for bullies. It’s up to parents to nurture confidence and decision-making skills. A good parent will ensure that his or her child is able to make wise, age-appropriate, independent choices early on. You can then rest most assured that despite a few rebellious errors, your child won’t face compromising self-esteem issues in adolescence and won’t be influences by his or her peer’s opinions.

Forbid Yourself To Be Forbidding: If we’ve learned any lesson from the story of the “forbidden fruit” is that it’s always the one we are most curious about and hungry for, not to mention the most likely to get us into (deep) trouble. While you may be able to read into another child’s personality or character, chances are your child can’t and by strictly forbidding association, you may be actually luring your youngster more deeply and quickly into the lion’s den. The company you forbid (especially without discussion and explanation) can potentially become the most influential. Plus, by shutting the door, you are teaching your child to be critical and judgmental, and to potentially lie to you and sneak behind you back. Instead encourage your child to hang out with a questionable friend in your home or other trusted adult friendly environment so you can keep and eye on them both.

Open Up Your Heart, Mind, and Ears: These are very sensitive years for your child. Different children develop physically and mental at different ages and stages, and many may simply misunderstand each other. In fact, it’s quite common for kids to label almost anything that’s outside of their particular experience as strange. If most girls are developing and your child is not, or if boys are talking about girls and yours is focused instead on academics, peers may see that as “weird”. If your child has learned to see himself or herself , they may eventually confess it to you. Experts suggest finding out why they feel like “misfits” and explaining that differences among people can be good and help them embrace their uniqueness.

All-Inclusive Lessons: Give your child a lesson in humanity. Teach him or her to respect people even if he or she has nothing in common with them or may feel he or she doesn’t like them. Express to your child the importance of common courtesy and how much it must hurt another person or child to be victimized and excluded and try to impart on your youngster how he or she would feel if he or she was in the other person’s shoes. Try to encourage him or her to at very least be nice and polite to everyone, to befriend a person who is new or seems to have no friends and be inspirational to them, but if they don’t want to hand out, at least teach your child to refrain from criticizing or ridiculing them.

Develop A Defense Mechanism: While you don’t want to teach your child to be verbally abrasive or abusive, you “do” him or he to be able to stand up for himself or herself. Teach your youngster some (positive) non-threatening, self-defense dynamics and how to (verbally) stop being victimized.

Bond And Identify With Your Child: Let your child know that he or she is not alone. Relate obstacles and insecurities that you overcame as a young child (without using this as an opportunity to host a pity party for yourself and gain your child’s sympathy), and even adversity you’ve faced or continue to face from peers in life. Explain adult competition and work place cliques and how you manage to deal and rise above.

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > Clique Here: Helping Your Child Cope With Cliques

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