We often encounter high school cliques during our teenage years, which have become a common aspect of teenage life. We may have experienced situations where we were either included or excluded from the “popular group.” For those who haven’t experienced it personally, numerous high school movies vividly portray the dynamics and drama associated with cliques.

Navigating the intricate world of high school social groups and friendships can be tough for any teenager. This highlights the importance of parents teaching their children strong and long-lasting social skills. These skills will help their children to make wise choices when they encounter cliques in school.

As parents, we know that navigating social dynamics can be tough for our kids. That’s why we’ve put together a helpful guide to make things a little easier. Our guide is designed to give you the tools you need to help your child navigate cliques and social circles. We’ll cover important topics like how to communicate effectively with your child, how to help them handle rejection, and how to build their confidence. Our goal is to equip you with the insights you need to support your teenager as they navigate the ups and downs of social life.

Closer Look at Cliques

Before we dive into how to talk about high school cliques with your child, let’s first get a clear picture of what a clique is.

In the school setting, cliques are like little social islands made up of people who share common interests or traits that set them apart from other students. At first, it’s just a group of friends hanging out, which is perfectly normal and not a cause for worry. But when this group starts to become exclusive, preventing others from joining and acting rudely towards those outside their circle, that’s when it becomes a clique.

There are a lot of factors that can lead to the formation of cliques in high schools, including age, gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. As a parent, it might be helpful to think about how these factors could affect your child as they start to make friends during their high school years.

Plan 1: Spot The Clique From Your Bird’s Eye View

As a parent, you have a unique perspective, kind of like a bird’s eye view, when it comes to your child’s circle of friends. Your child might not see the signs of a clique, like excluding others or manipulation within the group, but you might spot them first. As your kids get older, your role often changes from being actively involved in their social life to more of a bystander. Use this viewpoint to your advantage.

If you notice a clique forming, don’t rush to pull your child out of the group right away. Instead, start a conversation with your child, asking questions about what you’ve noticed. This way, you’re not only getting a better understanding of the situation, but you’re also creating a safe space for your child to talk about their experiences

Plan 2: Find Your Listening Cap

As your child starts to handle their friendships more independently, it’s crucial that home remains a safe space for them to reflect on what’s happening in their life. For you as a parent, this means it’s time to listen more and solve less. Make your home a place where they can freely express themselves without fear of judgment or criticism. This kind of environment can make them feel comfortable and encourage them to share any worries or concerns they might have.

When they face challenges, try not to jump in with a solution right away. Instead, encourage them to think about possible solutions themselves. This might be a tough shift for parents who are used to solving their children’s problems. But now is the perfect time to let them explore their own ideas and assure them that you’ll support them, no matter what happens.

Plan 3: Find Your Listening Cap

Parents, sharing your life experiences can be an incredible way to help your children learn how to navigate social situations. You have a wealth of knowledge that your kids haven’t yet gained, so don’t be afraid to share it! Even if you’re telling stories from your own childhood or professional life, your kids can learn from them. Sometimes, the most impactful stories are the ones where you share what not to do.

If you’re talking about cliques specifically, share any stories about how you went against the popular trend or opinion at the time. Talk about how you handled the situation, what happened, and what you might have done differently. These stories not only teach your children valuable lessons, but they also show that they’re not alone in their experiences.

Having these honest conversations with your children can create a safe space where they feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings. Plus, it can help them develop strong interpersonal skills that will serve them well beyond high school. So don’t underestimate the power of setting examples!

Plan 4: Teach Them The Practicals

Now, let’s talk about putting these ideas into action. While it’s important to listen and share personal experiences, there may be times when your kids need some practical advice. Of course, the advice you offer will depend on the situation, but there are a few tools you can give them that will be helpful in many different scenarios involving cliques.

Active listening

It’s important to remember that people don’t always say what they mean. Understanding this fundamental aspect of human communication is key to active listening. It can be hard for anyone to decipher the true intentions behind someone’s words, but adolescence is a great time to start practicing this skill. By encouraging your child to develop this ability, you can help them develop empathy towards their friends and peers. They’ll also be better equipped to patiently work through any underlying issues that may be causing tension in a given situation.


Another important skill, which can be difficult even for adults, is self-advocacy and knowing when to walk away. Sometimes cliques can become unhealthy situations where your child may need to assert themselves, even if it means losing some friends. Your child might feel peer pressure or experience bullying from a particular group at school. In these cases, it’s important to teach your child that they deserve good friends and that sometimes, they need to step away from a clique to find those good friends. While this can be tough for your child to navigate, it’s important to help them understand that doing so can have a lasting impact on their self-respect and their approach to relationships. As a parent, watching your child go through this can be challenging, but it’s crucial to support them in making the right decisions for themselves.

Keeping healthy boundaries

Teaching your child to set healthy boundaries is key to helping them navigate high school cliques. Encourage them to be honest about their feelings, wants, and needs in any situation. And if needed, remind them that it’s always okay to say ‘no’ when they feel uncomfortable. This is where those skills of active listening and problem solving can be super helpful if they have to have tough conversations with peers or teachers.

Positive role models

It’s important to provide your children with positive role models who can influence their perspectives on relationships and social interactions during high school. If your kids have older siblings, cousins, or friends who are mature and responsible, these individuals can serve as great examples to guide your kids in the right direction. If you’ve observed them demonstrating inclusivity, kindness, and compassion, highlighting and encouraging these admirable qualities can be incredibly beneficial for your child’s social development. By seeing positive behavior modeled by others, your child can learn how to interact with their peers in a healthy and respectful way.

Facing rejection

Going through rejection is a natural part of growing up, especially during high school. While it’s something that can be tough to deal with, there are many positive ways to help your child navigate it and grow from the experience. First and foremost, it’s crucial to rebuild their confidence and remind them that they are amazing, no matter what others might say. Let your child know that their worth is not dependent on any specific friend or clique.

Next, offer constructive advice to help your child handle the rejection in a healthy way. You can introduce them to resources like books or articles that focus on navigating cliques. These resources can be valuable tools to help initiate meaningful conversations and provide your child with the support they need.

Plan 5: Remind Them What’s Really Cool

It’s natural for kids to want to fit in with their peers, but it’s important to remind them that they don’t need to conform to have a fulfilling high school experience. Encourage your children to embrace their unique qualities and interests rather than striving to fit in with a particular group.

Help your kids explore activities and interests outside of school and cliques that bring them joy. Whether it’s joining a club, participating in community activities, or pursuing a hobby like photography, painting, or writing, there are many options available! The most important thing is for them to understand that what truly matters is doing what they enjoy, not conforming to the standards of a popular clique at school. By pursuing their passions, your child can find a sense of purpose and fulfillment that goes beyond fitting in with a particular group.