Playground cliques can be hard on kids in elementary school through high school, if you are on the outside looking in, it can be hard on their self esteem. As a parent, knowing what you can do to help your kids break into a playground clique is important. Try the following:
1. Start with their self esteem. The best way to get into a playground clique is to not need to. If your child feels good about themselves and has the confidence to not need to be in the group, they will be more readily accepted, and have less negative effects if they are not accepted.
2. Help them make one friend. If your child is struggling to get into the clique, instead of having them face the whole group, have them invite one kid from the clique to come over for a play date. You can monitor the play, and ensure that the kid is not manipulating or using your child, which is common among kids, especially kids who are used to being popular. If your child does not know which kid in the clique would be the most receptive to an invitation, ask their teacher. Teachers usually notice when there is a playground clique, and can tell you which child in the clique is going to be the best one for your child to try and befriend.
Join your child on the playground to observe.
3. Help your child be cool. Playground cliques are often formed by rank, which is usually established by who has the coolest stuff, dresses the best, or has the most to offer other kids. In elementary school it might be who has the best sack lunch, in middle school the best dresser, or the best cell phone, and in high school a combination of several things, from clothing, to the car they drive, to the places they vacation during breaks. If you are truly wanting to help catapult your child into a playground clique, then get them the best clothes, name brands, best phones, and best cars.
The fact is that playground cliques never really go away. Even in the offices of corporate America you are going to see the cool groups, and those that get left out. So, instead of working on getting your child into a specific group, or getting them the coolest stuff so they will be accepted by peers, help them to accept themselves so that they are more inclined to stand on their own and not need a group. If they can learn to accept themselves, and stand tall, they will never have a struggle to be accepted into whatever group they want.
There are always going to be kids that exclude others, and there are always going to be people who try to make your child feel bad by leaving them out. As a parent, your goal should be to teach your child not to be the one who does that, and to learn to include those who are often excluded. If your child can’t get into a playground clique, they probably are not the only one, so help them form their own group, just remind them that they should not exclude anyone, as then they are no better than those excluding them.