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Helping Students Survive Cliques

Updated on September 26, 2017
Jacqueline4390 profile image

Jacqueline Williamson graduated with a BBA in Personnel Admin., an MPA in HR Management and an MS in Education.

No one likes to be made to feel uncomfortable ...
No one likes to be made to feel uncomfortable ...


Little Johnny comes into the classroom with his head down. He takes a seat in the back. Although his shoes are nice and clean—they are not the latest style Nikes. His hair is combed but not cut in the newest styles that the other boys his age are wearing. You notice that the other class members omit him from any interaction and when he tries to comment; they give him looks that could kill! This is exclusion.

Whether we liked it or not, at some point in our lives we all have dealt with Peer Pressure. It can be a lot harder when you’re an adolescent or teen, however. There are many reasons why young people may submit to Peer Pressure. Being accepted is always preferred to being considered unlikeable or unwilling to conform to the standards within a group. The reasons for the differences could be due to economic circumstances. Students may be labeled weird or problematic when in actuality they desire more than anything to be received.

This article will investigate ways in which teachers can assist their students in understanding Peer Pressure and realize that not being included in a Clique doesn’t destine them to a life of rejection.

When the pressure is "on" ...
When the pressure is "on" ...

Defining Peer Pressure

What exactly is Peer Pressure and why is everyone susceptible to it?

Have you ever watched wildebeests or zebras on National Geographic Wild? If so, this should give you a clue. It’s that natural instinct to congregate with your own kind and feel secure. It is the knowledge that there is safety in numbers and when you digress from the “herd” there is always the danger of succumbing to predators.

In the wild, predators can be identified by their distinctive characteristics: lions, hyenas, tigers or bears possess massive canine teeth for tearing into flesh. Even in the ocean, there are sharks and other sea creatures that have the capability of devouring others. Unfortunately, in our human arena there are also predators in the form of intimidators, pranksters or bullies that await the opportunity to cause mayhem. More often than not, they are only young impressionable minds craving attention.

The media evokes great influence on our youth in deciding how to dress, how to look and even how to interact with their peers. Individuality can sometimes become understated in lieu of adopting the latest trend. If your school has a required dress code or necessitate the wearing of uniforms then this can be less of an issue. Teachers nevertheless should keep an ever vigilant eye on behavior that can be identified as deviant.

Not all "peer pressure" is positive ...
Not all "peer pressure" is positive ...

Why Give in to Peer Pressure?

There are many reasons why young people should not submit to Peer Pressure.

One of the most important reasons is that it’s not in your best interest. We discussed earlier how safety in numbers is a good way to avoid being the victim of a predator. We also noted that the “herd” tends to surround itself with like kind. Socializing with individuals who think and act similar to the way you do is always preferred to trying to fit into a group whose actions may not compliment your behavior. Teachers should stress this fact.

There are a lot of groups either in the school or the community that foster good moral behavior without regard to how a person looks; the economic status or ethnic background. Boys & Girls Clubs of America is a great example of an organization that specializes in creating the right environment for our youth. Talk to your class about the advantages of being affiliated with such organizations.

Friendships should be cultivated ...
Friendships should be cultivated ...

There is a difference between Friendships and Cliques

It is normal even health to have friendships or involvement in special interest groups. How wonderful to know that you belong and fit in. You can develop relationship skills, feel close to others, and get the support you need when you are a part of a group. Friendship groups are normally created where people have common interests. This is why there are Writers, Athletic, Artists, Computer and even Math Clubs. If you notice that your students show particular skills—why not encourage them to become a part of one of these groups. Or if there isn’t one already; suggest the students create their own.

Cliques, on the other hand, are rigid groups that frequently have a strict code of involvement and behavior. Instead of being focused on like values and ideas, many cliques are apt to center on maintaining their standing and reputation. For example, a certain clique may attempt to show that people in their group are “more desirable” than those who are not connected with them. People in cliques sometimes use their influence to hurt others by either being exclusive, degrading or both.

Your students should steer clear of such groups!

Get to know your students and the things that they enjoy doing ...
Get to know your students and the things that they enjoy doing ...

Surviving Cliques or Negative Peer Pressure

There are some things teachers can do to assist their students in avoiding or becoming victims of cliques or negative peer pressure.

Ask your students to think about the things that are important to them and how they feel about themselves. Let them know that they are not just the child of Mr. or Ms Parent but they are a vital part of the school, community or religious group who has the right to live and enjoy life the same as others.

Next, discuss how they need to stay involved in activities that help them to feel good about who they are. If you have students who enjoying drawing—encourage them to do this during their “down time.” Discuss with their parents their artistic potential and supply information and websites that foster their interest.

Keep on the lookout for students who are withdrawing from any type of social interaction and tends to keep mainly to themselves. This can be a warning sign of imminent trouble. Get to know your students and try to get to know their parent(s). If something negative has happened or you notice a distinct change in their behavior—discuss this with the students involved, the parent(s) and the school counselor.

Inform your students that if they feel threaten or uncomfortable in any way; they need to inform an adult regarding the situation. Let your students know that they don’t have to feel compel to engage in activity that may cause them negative consequences. When your students know that they can have confidence in their positive actions then they will be less likely to fall prey of negativism.

Don't be afraid of having open discussions with your students regarding peer pressure ...
Don't be afraid of having open discussions with your students regarding peer pressure ...

Closing Comments

Molding the lives of others is a big responsibility. Parents rely on teachers to train their offspring in an environment that is most conductive to learning. When students don’t have the added burden of feeling rejected because of their physical appearance, their religious beliefs or their choices in acceptable behavior, they will benefit greatly from their years of matriculation in school.

© 2014 Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS


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    • Jacqueline4390 profile image

      Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS 2 years ago from Memphis

      It's so important that adults take an active and not passive approach in helping youth deal with peer pressure. Thanks for reading!

    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 2 years ago from California, United States of America

      Very intelligent look at and approach to the issue of peer pressure and cliques. It's an important issue because children go through very rough times, particularly in their teens, and the end result can often be tragic.

    • Jacqueline4390 profile image

      Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS 3 years ago from Memphis

      Thanks CyberShelley ... there is as you suggest "good peer pressure" but there is the more negative kind that I hope educators will assist our youth in handling. I believe that the negative type results in destructive behavior.

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 3 years ago

      Great work here, but normal peer pressure is so much a part of growing up, and learning inner strength, self esteem and self-confidence - however, it is not normal when it becomes ugly, and you have here some very sensible solutions.

    • Jacqueline4390 profile image

      Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS 3 years ago from Memphis

      Thanks Jackie ... no child should have to be subjected to peer pressure. Maybe if more were informed it would make our schools a lot safer!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      There really should be required classes dealing with all these things. Both sides need it! Great article. ^+