As parents, we all want our children to be kind, empathetic, and inclusive towards others. Unfortunately, the reality is that social hierarchies and cliques often form among children, particularly in the school environment. As my 10 and 12-year-old daughters navigate their way through these tricky waters, it’s important to me that I equip them with the tools to stand up for what’s right and be a friend to everyone.
I have compiled my best practices to help us all overcome cliques forming at school and how to be a friend to everyone:
- Talk to your children about the importance of integrity and treating others with respect. Start by having an open and honest conversation with your kids about what it means to have integrity and the importance of treating others with respect. Teach them to pay attention to how others are treated, and how they would like to be treated if they were in that situation.
- Encourage your children to be inclusive. Encourage them to make an effort to include everyone, even those who may not be part of their immediate social circle. Suggest that they invite others to join in on activities or sit with them at lunch. Remind them that everyone wants to feel included and valued.
- Discuss the importance of speaking up. Teach your children to speak up if they witness someone being bullied or treated unfairly. Encourage them to tell a teacher or another trusted adult if they see something that doesn’t feel right. Remind them that by speaking up, they can help prevent someone else from being hurt.
- Role-play different scenarios. Role-play different scenarios with them, including what to do if their own friend is not being a good friend. Help them practice speaking up and standing up for what’s right.
- Encourage your kids to be themselves. Remind them that it’s important to be themselves and not change who they are to fit in with a certain group. Encourage them to be true to themselves and to value their own unique qualities and strengths.
It can be stressful to navigate the complexities of social hierarchies and cliques at school. I know that if I don’t get ahead of it, they can get pulled in … or be on the receiving end. I put my trust in if I provide and model the tools to be kind, empathetic, and inclusive towards others, they are being set up for long term relationship success.