This is opportune as I had to lead a committee who upgraded our Behaviour Management Policy document. This behaviour management issue came up again and again from our playground duty reports. We received more reports with issues from girls but not always. What is surprising is that the cliques were forming in younger and younger students.
So I had 4 teachers and a guidance officer on my committee to look at this issue and the boss wanted it done quickly at the end of the year. so we didn't have a lot of time to research it but I hope this helps.
Here are some ways teachers can address cliques at their schools and help put an end to the bullying that comes with it.
Cliques often have several types of bullies in them but most are GROUP BULLIES. Group bullies have a pack mentality. They often behave differently when they are alone, even if they are with the victim. Usually, group bullies imitate the leader of the group and just follow along. Because kids feel insulated when they are in a group, they often feel freer to say and do things they wouldn't do otherwise. They also feel less responsibility for their actions because others are "doing it" and they will often present that as an excuse. The best behaviour management strategy is to have the kids act out the situation with toy figures. (Our guidance office uses this strategy all the time). In the acting out the isolated student will feature as being away from the group. Then have the bullies explain how the isolated student will feel, how they would feel.
The thinking is that this will develop an empathy with the victim. That strategy appears in our behaviour management policy quite a lot.
Cliques use emotional aggression to bully. One way to help prevent cliques is to talk through the forms of emotional bullying with your students. Make sure they know that bullying hurts other people and that the victims suffer significant.
Cliques often involve unhealthy friendships with one person in charge and the rest following. Discourage cliques by discussing how to be a good friend. Break the kids into groups and use a think, pair share as a behaviour management strategy. (My link, Bob). If the situation continues, pull the leader aside and take them through the chart. Use language arts books involving friendships to help emphasize this fact and to hold discussions.
Cliques often use gossip, backstabbing and rumor-spreading to maintain power. Discuss the dangers of these behaviors. Students often don’t think about the negative repercussions of their actions. As a result, they may engage in this behaviour without even thinking about how this could impact them long-term. Utilize teaching resources to emphasize this point. There are hundreds of YouTube videos but this one is a good one about cliques. It is American but kids can relate to the message.
Cliques often require conformity to be part of the group. The parents of the victim may be able to help their child cope with cliques. There is a great article called How to Help Your Child Cope Cliques. You can also use this with the parents of the bully (who usually think their child is the victim as well). It doesn't really matter as the skills are the same.
Cliques often exclude other students. One behaviour management strategy is to assign students to groups for class projects and give kids specific jobs. By changing groups you are ensuring that kids mix the circle of friends. Pre-selected groups also give students an opportunity to learn how to work with different types of people.
Cliques often use peer pressure to maintain control. This not only relates to cliques but it is important to deal with behaviour management of peer pressure. There are hundreds of resources but the best way is for kids to role play situations.
I hope this helps.
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