With teens and young adults getting back to school, the rise of the teen cliques and the pressures they apply to students starts up again. How do teen cliques create peer pressure? Let’s start off talking about what a clique is.
What is a clique?
As defined by Google, a clique is a small group of people, with shared interests or other features in common, who spend time together and do not readily allow others to join them. For teenagers, this could be a group of friends or teammates. They are like the peer groups we have been talking about this quarter. These kinds of groups don’t only appear in the school setting, but also appear in many other places in society.
I wrote a review on the novel Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes which talks about teen cliques. It is a very relatable story for teens and is a great example of how things work within the social structures found in high school.
Throughout this novel, Portes shows how the popular kids are able show their power by labelling other kids at school, not by what they know, but by how they feel about them. This labelling tends to set a course for how their classmates get through their high school years, sometimes making it easier and sometimes more challenging.
How to they pressure their peers?
When we talk about cliques at school, not only do they typically not readily accept new members, but some cliques if powerful enough can set the tone for how things will go within the social structure at school. Because of perceived power they have, cliques will sometimes pressure teens who are inside their group or outside of their social circle.
One way that they do this is by labeling other classmates. These labels can either be positive and raise self esteem or they can be negative and impact the classmates self worth. Since teens are always trying to fit in and not stand out, how the most popular group in the school sees them is very important.
Not only is the social hierarchy at school created by cliques, but what is cool to wear and have at school is also determined by them. So, as you are shopping for back to school clothes and supplies, you may be asked to buy the expensive jeans or athletic shoes. Your teen may not even really like those things. But if it is important to the clique and may help them fit in, they want them.
Another way that teens pressure their peers is through singling certain classmates out and alienating them. Either by ignoring them or by hassling them because they are different. This behavior can lead to bullying and has been found as a cause of teen suicide and even some school shootings.
How do we help teens navigate this challenge?
As we talk more about peer pressure, I continue to look for resources on how we can help the teens in our life deal with it. It isn’t something that will just go away. We all deal with pressure from our peers, whether it is positive or negative. Here are some ideas we can use to help them navigate the pressures they are feeling from their peers.
Coach your teen to include and accept those who are different from them. Learning about what is unique about others is a great way to learn about them and many other things.
Teach your teen how important being kind to others is. I saw a great image on Facebook for all students returning to school. However, this is a great thing to keep in mind throughout the school year as well.
And, reinforce with your teen how important it is to just be themselves. Celebrate their uniqueness as being a positive thing. Remind them that conforming to what everyone else is doing or wearing doesn’t have to be a goal for them to feel good about themselves.
The Hard Way is about peer pressure
Another great way to help our teens is to suggest books for them to read about the teen challenge they are facing. The Hard Way is the first book in The Way Series by Selma P. Verde. It is the story of Paul Jones and his navigating peer pressure to make choices. In the story, is peers challenge him to make a choice. The choice he makes helps him stay loyal to his friends, but it leads to big consequences. To find out what choice he makes, follow the link below and pick up your copy today!
And, for more information about peer pressure, click on this link to our focus on the subject. Mentoring A Dream – Peer Pressure