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Sunday, May 6, 2007

A Sunday's List: Cliques, Friendships and Self-Esteem

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.

3. Friends: Making Them and Keeping Them (American Girl Library) by Stacy Peterson, Erin Falligant, Michelle Watkins, and Chris David, ages 9 - 12

4. 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
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
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!


Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Even in preschool, there are groups forming. Fortunately, my daughter is cheerfully oblivious, and I'm hoping that a miracle will happen where she will go through her whole life not worrying about what other people think of her. I was someone who was painfully aware of cliques, and it's hard to keep my own baggage off her shoulders. I'll take a look at some of these books, even though the subject just makes me clench up inside.

HipWriterMama said...

I know. It's a tough subject matter. But I'll tell you, just from my experience so far in this, it is so helpful having read some of these books before giving friendship advice or strategies.

I feel more empowered having read these books because I feel more prepared to help my children. Not to mention girls nowadays can be so mean and brutal. These books have enlightened me on some really bad scenarios. So I hopefully I won't be one of those mothers who are clueless when their child is having a tough time.

Gone are the days when a big hug and kiss from mommy is gonna make it all better. Sigh.

PJ Hoover said...

Thank you so much for the list! And please do post the "boys" list if you do the research. My son is in K right now!
As a parent, you want to protect your child from ever feeling hurt and left out, but you know that inevitably, it will happen. We all went through it.
Thus far in Kindergarten, we haven't seen too many issues with cliques (although I think they are more a girl thing). There are some kids that "aren't friends" with my son. He can't give any specific reasons why. I guess this is where it all starts.
Our biggest thing is that we are drilling positive mental attitude into our kids. (some may call this brain-washing :) but it's better than being brain-washed negatively like society seems to promote).

HipWriterMama said...

Yes, I'll research some books on boys and share with you. Although my initial thoughts are I probably won't find much. From my limited observations and stories I hear, boys are so much easier when dealing with friends. If there's a problem, they'll get into a little bit of a scuffle and then all is forgotten.

Girls will talk the issue to death, not talk for weeks, get others to not talk to the poor girl. It's quite sad.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

In fourth grade, I was friends with a girl named Sarah. She told me that the year before, the other girls in her class had formed a "I Hate Sarah" club that met on Thursdays. We became good friends. Then, the "I Hate Sarah" club decided they liked Sarah. She began to hang out with them, and we didn't go over to each other's houses anymore.

What goes on in our brains is literally mind-addling.

Robin Brande said...

What a great resource this list is. I hope it gets distributed widely.

Mean girls are such a problem. But in the same way one mean girl can poison a group and make another girl's life miserable, I think some Queen Bee kind girls can also turn things around.

Maybe that's where parents and teachers need to put their efforts: cultivating the behavior that will counteract the inevitable bitchiness that's out there. Figure out ways to take the power away from snide girls and give it to the ones who make everyone feel valued and welcome.

Or is this just a fantasy of mine?

HipWriterMama said...

Yeah, girls are baffling. I hope you had other friends who could help you through your pain after Sarah joined the "I Hate Sarah" devotees.

To have a group named after you in total hate, that has got to incredibly painful. You are one great friend that you stuck by Sarah. This Sarah sounds quite warped that she wanted to hang out with the ones who hated her the most. Isn't there some type of quote about this type of thing?

I so agree. The Queen Bees can turn things around, if they are strong enough to deal with the peer pressure and astute enough to handle the social and political manueverings of the Wannabees. But that's why they're Queen right? Because she's All That.

Parents especially, and teachers have huge responsibilities to teach our girls. We've got a long way to go.

Jen Robinson said...

What a great resource! Thanks for sharing it. I'll be sure to link to it (later in the week, I have way too many posts today already...). I agree with Robin that it should be distributed widely.

HipWriterMama said...

Thanks Jen. Isn't it amazing what girls have to deal with nowadays?
I certainly don't remember it like this when I was younger.

Little Willow said...

Would you care for any fiction recs? If so, check out THE GIRLS by Amy Goldman Koss. It's in the kids' department. The POV switches every chapter between the queen bee, the wannabes, and the girl on her way out of the clique.

HipWriterMama said...

Thanks Little Willow for the recommendation. I just looked up the book on Amazon.com. If anyone is interested in a fiction book portraying girl cliques, Little Willow has recommended THE GIRLS, by Amy Goldman Koss. The publisher has recommended this book for girls ages 10-14.