Teen Talk - Teens and Cliques

Teen Talk
Posted at 9:57 AM, Jul 21, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-21 06:10:46-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -  This week's "Teen Talk" is focused on advice for parents when it comes to teens who may be facing 'cliques'.

WTXL contributor and family therapist Jane Marks:

1. It is important that teenagers feel a sense of belonging.  In doing so, the place that we start is to help them find the right fit.  A lot of time kids try to fit into groups that are really very foreign to them but what is important is that whatever group you fit into has your same values. Start the year off with a conversation with your daughter.  Listen to your daughter and understand the way she views her world and the entire issue of popularity.

2. Inspire your daughter to know herself and encourage self-awareness and what a reputation means.  For example; do you want to be included in a group to feel accepted or do you want to influence other people or is it important that you are part of something so that other people can influence you?

3. Good ways to manage cliques are continued involvement in activities that make her feel good about herself and where she can have continued successes.  Teach her to play to her strengths.  For example if your youngster is strong in sports or music.  It helps when they participate in groups that play to the same strengths.

4. Stress authenticity.  Make sure your teen knows the importance of being themselves.  Encourage them to remain true to their values, beliefs, and interests.  Know who you are and don't let others change you.

5. Nurture friendships outside of the school environment.  Encourage social connections that are open and diverse.  It is important that your youngster be involved with kids from different settings, different backgrounds, different ages, different ethnic groups and different interests. The support and caring from differing groups can help make you feel less defensive and less overwhelmed.  It is important as a parent that you model this behavior as much as you can.  It will make it an easier task for them.

6. Encourage assertiveness both in relationship groups and individually.  Don't be afraid to speak up. Encourage sensitivity to others and not to just go along with group mentality.  Take responsibility for your actions.

7. Teach your child friendship skills, how to be friendly and welcoming.  This helps them to have many connections as opposed to one particular group.  

8. Teach the fundamentals of bullying.  They need to be able to spot this behavior whether in a clique or outside of a clique.

9. Teach your teens to understand and trust their instincts. Teach your youngsters to put language on issues.  If they have found an easy connection with a group of people and they find that the group is encouraging or participating in risky behaviors, teach them how to put language on it or to understand worries and  pressures.  Teach them to say no.

10. And finally, a great resource for parents and kids who are struggling with social connections is "Queen Bees and Wanna Bees, the new realities of the girl world".  This is a wonderful resource for parents.  Social awareness is one of the building blocks of long term personal growth and development.

Watch Teen Talk every other Monday at 6:30am on WTXL's Sunrise.