Social Groups in Middle School
Teaching your child about social validation – understand the secret behind who gets picked on and who gets to do the picking.
What You Need to Know
- Adolescents have a strong need to be part of a social group. “Free time” during school days allows for informal interaction, and clubs give them a chance to get to know peers with similar interests.
- Adolescents pick on others as a way of deflecting potential negativity away from their own differences or insecurities, which leads to the chosen adolescents feeling like targets.
- Shyness may manifest itself in blushing or sweating, but a need to conform to group norms may cause a child to suppress the symptoms in order to appear confident. Whether shyness is obvious or hidden, it can be painful.
How You Can Help
- Allow your child time to foster healthy relationships with peers. Allow group outings over one-on-one dating at this stage, and allow your home to be a hang out spot so that you're kept abreast of who your child is spending time with.
- Provide a variety of socialization outlets to allow your child to find her place and thrive where she feels most comfortable and confident.
- Teach your child to be sensitive to kids who seem to be outcasts; and if your child feels like an outcast, place emphasis on pursuing activities outside of school around his own interest, which might introduce him to friends who share those interests. Teach children not to react to teasing, since teasers are usually only looking for a reaction and will become bored if they don't get one.
- Praise efforts and success, compliment your child's greatest strengths, features and characteristics to help cultivate confidence, high self esteem, and a healthy self image.
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