Clicks and Cliques: A Social Emotional Discussion
Marianne Picha, Director of Middle School

Middle School Community Time has been filled with lots of activities this year. During the 50-minute block of time that falls right after lunch every day, there have been clubs (Robotics, Ukulele, Creative Writing, Yoga, Debate, Umbrella, Dancing and Drumming, to name a few) study time, opportunities to meet with teachers, class meetings, assembly, advisory time, a STEAM challenge where we all built pasta cars, and SEL.

SEL stands for Social Emotional Learning, and we call our program Puma Development. During Puma Development, students work with advisors in a combined advisory groups (about 20 kids and 2-3 advisors) to work on how we treat each other and how to better understand ourselves. Recently, we talked about “Clicks vs. Cliques” and I think it’s good to share out this idea because it’s a good discussion topic for the car ride to the store or around the dinner table.

When we talk about “Clicks,” we are talking about a group of people who click together in a healthy way. Maybe they all play a sport or have a common interest. The group is there for each other, shows interest in each other, and let’s everyone be themselves without having to conform to a group-think.

The great thing about the clicking group is that they are always looking for people to share their common excitement while still supporting each other. The group is fluid and safe at the same time.

When we talk about “Cliques,” clicking is not necessarily what bonds the group together. The clique is organized around perceived power and personality. The leaders of this group are often controlling and have charismatic personalities. The group is closed to others and within the group, the rules of behavior, dress and social contact are strict. Worse, straying from the group, or bringing someone in is not okay. Cliques don’t allow for clicking.

With the uncertain terrain of middle school social tumult under their feet, students often need help with finding meaningful social relationships to ground them. Clubs and sports help, as does our Puma Development program. But, as this rocky process plays out, parents can remind students to be open to new friendships, encourage students to try clubs without dictating which club to attend, refrain from focusing on a few “bad kids” who “are mean,” and keep in mind that all kids (yes, all) feel unpopular, unsure, and socially marginalized from time to time. You can help by being your child’s solid ground.

Here’s an article to check out called Clicks vs. Cliques that might be interesting.

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