If your kid is in high school, then you can safely assume that he or she is either in a clique or being excluded from one.
Popular kids. What determines whether or not someone is popular remains a mystery. The "most popular" girl or boy isn't usually the kid who is best liked, it's more of the one who is most feared. Popular kids rise to power by using and excluding fellow students. Who doesn't remember a Mean Girls' Regina George from their high school days?
Nerds. Pop culture presents nerds as socially impaired boys and girls who are obsessed with intellectual pursuits. They're stereotyped as plain looking, bespectacled and looking in from the outside. However, this clique is gaining ground in our high-tech society, thanks to the likes of Bill Gates (the ultimate nerd). Nerds are earning billions in the computer and video game industries. More power to 'em!
Jocks. A jock (aka muscle head) generally describes a guy who's into sports. Considering that the "jock" is likely derived from "jockstrap," it doesn't always carry the most positive connotation. Since the early 1960s right up to the present day (e.g., Glee's mean jock Dave Karofsky), jocks are represented in the media as beefy, unintelligent bullies who abuse alcohol and beat up on nerds.
Stoners. You may remember recreational drug users as "potheads." Stoners are united by their drug habits — some as users, others as political reformists. Keep in mind that a lot of high school kids smoke marijuana, but the stoners don't feel compelled to hide, deny or apologize for it.
Band geeks. Anyone who was in high school band knows that it can be a fantastic bonding experience. Since they're obsessing over music and marching formations, talented band geeks are usually easy to identify. Fortunately, they tend to hang out in groups, so they're not intimidated by jocks or popular kids.
There are more. Goths, Freaks, Skaters, Emos, Preps, Gangsters, Cheerleaders, Punks, Sluts, Loners. Bottom line: Every kid is classified as something.
A clique can create problems in two ways:
Children have no control over the cliques, but they can control how they respond to them.
Tip: Check out "Mean Chicks, Cliques, and Dirty Tricks: A Real Girl's Guide to Getting Through the Day with Smarts and Style." ($10, BarnesandNoble.com)
You can help your teen navigate the tricky clique circuit.
Tip: Check out "The Courage to Be Yourself: True Stories by Teens About Cliques, Conflicts, and Overcoming Peer Pressure." ($13, Amazon.com)
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