The Barnes & Noble Review
As the adult sibling of a 13-year old who has been targeted as "her clique's doormat" for the past three years, I am all too familiar with malicious clique behavior and the devastating effect it can have on a child's self-esteem. So it was with great hope that I picked up this book, expecting to find a miracle solution that would end the exclusion and nastiness that leave my sister in tears and my stomach in knots. I thought I would find a way to teach my sister to reject the clique system and want to hang out with the nicer crowd. I hoped for some little tip that, when implemented by my sister, would stop the harassment for good.
But rather than encouraging a child to buck the system or shun rigid social order, the authors recommend ways to help your child accept his or her place in this order and feel confident and happy with who he/she is. Although I was taken aback at first, I came to realize this does not mean passively accepting bullying behavior; it simply means focusing on the way things are and working on the things you can change rather than attempting to stop bullying at its source, which is beyond the ability of a picked-upon child or his/her parents. Yes, there are tactics for undermining the power of the ringleader and, of course, there is advice for when parents need to step in. But the book overwhelmingly conveys that cliques are a way of life and that the best a parent can do is to teach their child how to deal with them, not transcend them.
Readers may agree or disagree with this; I personally found it a very hard truth to swallow. But I finally realized that the authors are right -- my sister might be miserable with the friends she has, but she does not want different friends, and I cannot convince her otherwise. I am also powerless to change the behavior of other people's children -- the instigators, the ringleaders, the bullies. But I can encourage my sister to change the way she reacts to the hurtful words and actions. I can encourage her to value true friendship and to take a proactive role in choosing friends based on merit rather than circumstance or popularity in the future.
Chapters for parents of bullies or ringleaders and bystanders (whose lack of action either way supports clique behavior), make Cliques an invaluable read for every parent. If all parents -- regardless of the role their child plays in the social order -- take more of an interest in their child's social landscape and try to put a stop to harmful behavior, perhaps cliques will cease be such an inescapable part of growing up. But until then, the best a parent (or other family member or loved one) can do is offer the right kind of support and gently guide a child toward more constructive social behavior. This book is an excellent place to find the tools for the task.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The authors of The Roller Coaster Years, which PW named one of the Best Books of 1997, and Parenting 911 examine the subtle but powerful influence that peer pressure, most notably in the form of cliques, can have on children, generally starting during the middle school years (when kids are between the ages of 10 and 15), and offer parents effective aids to helping their kids--whether they are bullies, victims or observers--manage the larger world of friendships and associations beyond their family at a time when they are also wrestling with issues of self-identity and self-worth. Among the authors' suggestions are "help your child develop... an objective view of cliques" and "help your child control emotions," but, they caution, there are certain things, such as "prevent[ing] others from judging your child," that are beyond parents' scope of control or influence. "Cliques deal in social power," aver Giannetti and Sagarese, and even those kids who are considered popular suffer from insecurities about whether or not they'll continue to fit in. In fact, Giannetti and Sagarese have found that kids in "middle friendship circles" (the clique into which most kids fall), who are neither competing for popularity nor are antisocial loners, are usually the happiest. Once again, Giannetti and Sagarese deliver a positive, proactive book for parents that offers cogent (often anecdotal) examples of particular problems that occur with social interaction among middle schoolers and presents effective strategies for handling them. Cliques can be a serious problem, but keeping things in perspective is helpful all the way around. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Social hierarchies have always existed, but today's "in crowds" create a "climate of cruelty" in many middle schools. Their exclusionary tactics have been cited as one cause of recent outbreaks of school violence. This guide offers parents a blueprint for understanding contemporary adolescent culture as well as tools to help their children fight the tyranny of cliques. Written in a plainspoken style with adequate references for a popular audience, the book is loosely organized around eight facets of social intelligence, including emotional self-control, victim empowerment, dealing with bullies, and "fitting in." Parents are urged to lead by example, teach tolerance, and act as backup in extreme cases. The authors, who have collaborated on other parenting books (Parenting 911; The Roller-Coaster Years) and host a weekly web chat, provide sensible advice to parents concerned about the "outsider" status of their children. Parents of the ringleaders could also benefit. A useful and unique addition to adolescent parenting collections.--Antoinette Brinkman, MLS, formerly with Southwest Indiana Mental Health Ctr. Lib., Evansville Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.