Cliques, Friendships and Self-Esteem

Note: Now that school has started again, I thought I’d repost this for those who might need these resources… The orginal post date was May 6, 2007.


A friend of mine has been concerned with how the girls in her daughter’s second grade class interact with one another. Seems like there are cliques, there is exclusion, and quite a few hurt feelings. For both daughter and mom.

My friend thinks second grade is too young for cliques and exclusion. While I agree second grade is too young for the cliques and exclusion, I’m not surprised to hear about it. I’ve been shocked and horrified by a few of the antics from girls in my children’s classes over the past few years. And there’s a nagging voice inside me that keeps asking, “Isn’t this supposed to happen in middle school?”

When I first observed some of this incredulous behavior, I went in search of advice and books. Seems the topic of cliques creates alot of discomfort. In light of all my informal research, I believe as adults, we relive our childhood friendships when we deal with our children’s friendship problems. It doesn’t matter whether we were popular or the class nerd, all of us had issues we had to deal with when we were younger. And it unwittingly shows when we help our children navigate the uncertain waters surrounding friendships and cliques.

Most children’s self esteem is strongly tied to their friendships and how others see them. I believe as parents, if we can help our children through their friendship problems with ease, we can keep our children confident with good self esteem.

I’ve come up with a short list of books and websites parents can read to understand how to keep your girls strong through their friendship difficulties. While most of this information is applicable to the middle school and high school years, as kids sometimes act older or mature faster, you may still find it helpful for your elementary age child. If you have anything else to add, please let me know, and I’ll add them to the list. Also, I’ll research some books and websites for boys and post them next week.

And now, A Sunday’s List:
1. Queen Bees and Wannabees by Rosalind Wiseman — The movie Mean Girls was based on this book. This book should apply to middle school and high school age girls. It will give you insight to cliques, friendships, gossip, boyfriends, and other stuff the girls will eventually go through. It a tougher world out there than I remember.
2. Odd Girl Out by Rachel Simmons — This book explores friendships and bullying by middle school and high school girls. Some cliques lead to targeting and bullying, so it’s important to know how to handle if your girls turn out to be the instigators or the recipients.
3. Odd Girl Speaks Out: Girls Write About Bullies, Cliques, Popularity and Jealousy by Rachel Simmons, middle school and high school level.
4. Friends: Making Them and Keeping Them (American Girl Library) by Stacy Peterson, Erin Falligant, Michelle Watkins, and Chris David, ages 9 – 12
5. Cliques: Eight steps to help your child survive the social jungle by Charlene Giannetti, middle school level.

Here are some interesting links:
1. Coping With Cliques, age 8-9
2. Parenting of K-6 children, ages 5-12
3. Girls Cliques: What Role Does Your Daughter Play?, ages 10 and up. This takes an excerpt from the book Queen Bees and Wannabees on the structure of cliques.
4. Girl Power!, ages 9-13
5. PBSKids: It’s My Life, ages 9-12
6. Girls Health:Real Life Friendships, ages 12 and up
7. Helping your Pre-Teen Survive Teenage Fights, ages 9-12

Let me know if you have any other suggestions. Thanks!

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Vivian Lee Mahoney

Consider yourself warned: I write books about rebels. I'm also a postergirlz for readergirlz, a literary advisory group for teens. Who knew going back to the teenage years would be so rewarding?

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