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01 Feb. 2021

Adolescent Cliques and Groups

Adolescent friendships and companionships can be tricky! Teenagers have a lot of choices to make, with regard to whom they want to be friends with, the groups they want to be a part of and hang out with, the actions that they need to do so as to be accepted within those groups, so on and so forth. Considering all these aspects, fitting in and being accepted within the social circles that they are desirous to be a part of, which offer them opportunities to learn, discuss and understand things better, might be a tough nut to crack.

Its normal to be a part of groups, wherein one is able to meet people with similar interest, and it is also normal for certain kids to be left alone when forming certain groups, partly because their core interests might not be matching, and it’s also normal for certain people within the group to be closer to each that to the whole group, just because they understand each other better. But the moment other kids who might be interested are not included, or participants of the group are not allowed to breed friendships with kids in other groups, it becomes problematic. Then rather than just group dynamics it becomes a concern of social discrimination and limiting one’s self exploration and development as a result of group identity and affiliation.

Groups and cliques are two extremes of a continuum. Feeling the need to be a part of a group is a normal phenomenon but when these groups become grounds for polarization, it becomes stressful and a point of concern, giving rise to what is popularly known as “Cliques”. In simple terms cliques are the “Cool” Groups that open to people on very strict entry and exit terms, they call for a divide within the people on the basis of appearances and actions and are not open to all who wish to join. They have ingrained within a strict power dynamic, an assumed hierarchy and to top it all, a set of rules that guide, inclusion, exclusion as well as maintenance of position within groups. They become problematic when they ostracize others who wish to be a part but are not allowed because they fail to possess the cool element that they are looking for. This strict exclusion criterion has been known to be a breeding ground for bullying, and causing hurt to others, however, the ill effects are not limited to others only, as people within the cliques are also impacted, wherein, by being a part of the clique and trying to upkeep with their social stature, many teenagers fail to discover themselves, fail to become a part of other groups and thus fail to develop diverse interests. Their lives are consumed in working towards maintaining their position within the cliques, and managing the dynamics within the same, most times friendships within such cliques are also very superficial, and thus, lack proper rooting.

What you can do as a teenager:

a)Make friends with diverse interests; don’t restrict yourself to only one group.

b)Be compassionate to others, be inclusive to other teenagers, and offer them support. Try to put yourself in others position to understands them better, accept them as they are.

c)If you are not accepted into any of these cliques, believe that they are possibly not the friends that you would want to be with. You are special in your own way and you need not change yourself to be a part of any group.

In conclusion we can see that adolescence witnesses a lot of identity building which is tied to clique formation. However, it is important to note that though cliques give a false sense of community and group affiliation, they also have a lot of drawbacks and should be avoided.