Top ten tips for avoiding school gate cliques
As the new school year swiftly approaches, many parents begin to get anxious about casting their children off into the throng of the schoolyard alone. Will they be accepted by the other kids? Will they fit in? Or will they be judged, picked on or excluded? Sadly, though we may have thought we left such issues behind in our childhoods, as parents we can also face these worries as we approach the school gates. Just as cliques quickly form amongst students, adult cliques are an undeniable and unwelcome presence during school drop-off and pick-ups.
What is the issue with school gate cliques?
Yes, people will naturally tend to make friends with like-minded people and shy away from those they have less in common with. Forming friendships and friendship groups is neither unusual nor unhealthy. The issue is when these turn into cliques — small groups of people who think they are special and do not want others to join them. Being left out of the cliques can be hurtful. Trying to fit in with them can be even harder. And it’s not just parents who are affected but our kids too. If a parent is excluded, you can be pretty sure their child will also be left out too when it comes to play dates, parties and other events. So how can these cliques be avoided?
Our top ten tips for avoiding school gate cliques
1. Don’t dress to impress
Mornings are busy enough getting the kids ready and out the door without the added stress of taking part in a school drop-off fashion parade. Wear what you want and be yourself.
2. Be friendly
Smile. Say hello. Start conversations. Hanging back can be self-excluding, and you may be surprised at how many people respond to genuine warmth.
3. Don’t judge
We’re all different, from the way we dress and look to the way we act and parent. The important thing is not to judge and criticise others for these differences, but to embrace the fact that we are all in this together.
4. Don’t cling to first impressions
Remember that people may not be what they first seem. Keep an open mind and you will open yourself up to more friendships.
5. Avoid gossip
People will gossip. We can’t really do anything about that … but we don’t have to be a part of it.
6. Shake it off
So someone makes a rude or mean comment to you … that says more about the sort of person they are than anything about you. Shake it off. Let it go. Have a laugh about it. Whatever you need to do to not let it get to you.
7. Rise above it
When others are engaging in negative comments and actions it’s often easiest to join in or respond in the same way towards them. Just remember how childish their behaviour is and don’t get sucked in.
8. Include others
If you see people who are hanging back or being left out, reach out them. These are often the people who will turn out to be true and lasting friends.
9. Give it time
The beginning of a new school year is a stressful time for everyone. As the term progresses, you will often find that things become easier, groups become less defined and circles of friendship become wider and more open.
10. Set a good example
Above all, we must think of our children. We are their strongest role models for how to behave and how to treat others. Let’s lead by example and give them the inspiration and strength for coping with such issues if they encounter them in their lives.
We hope these tips will help to make the school run a happier and less stressful time for everyone. If you have any other tips please share them with us!
If you have a little one starting school for the first time, you may wish to read our Back to School Tips for Parents of Prep Students.