An expert eases parents' concerns about cliques.

Diane Ross Glazer, PhD, a child therapist in Santa Monica, California, answers the following questions about cliques.

Why do children form cliques?

Children, like all human beings, are "status conscious," and cliques give them a way to define their status or ranking within a class. Being part of a popular clique (as opposed to a lower-ranked group of kids) affords children a sense of power and position among their classmates. Popular kids set the standards to which other kids aspire.

Why do certain kids emerge as clique leaders?

Some children are born with charisma and an innate sense of leadership, and kids are naturally drawn to them. These children tend to be socially well developed (or even precocious), interact well with their peers, know how to get kids to follow them, and perhaps, most important, know how to create fun.

What types of kids get excluded from cliques?

Children who are perceived as not having a certain social status or cache, or who might appear different in some way, are usually ostracized from the top cliques. That's not to say, though, that these kids can't be part of other cliques or groups of children (there are many in every grade), or have good friendships both in and outside of school.

What's the most painful part of exclusion?

Children who are excluded often desperately want to be accepted by their peers. So the best thing parents can do, particularly in the grade school years, is to help their kids find a social niche -- by encouraging them to make friends, develop interests, and build a sense of self-confidence.

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

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