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Cliques - when some people think they are better than others

cliques; friendship; groups; bullying;



Everyone wants and needs friends. It’s normal for kids to want to be part of groups of kids who share the same interests. 

What is a friendship group?

A friendship group is a group of people who share a common interest.

  • When you were little your friends were probably other kids in your family, kids who lived near to your home or kids belonging to your parent’s or carer’s friends.
  • As you grew older you may have made friends with kids at kindy, preschool and primary school.
  • You may have made more friends who shared activities with you eg. playing sports, dance, gymnastics, swimming lessons etc.
  • In primary school there are more people to make friends with - in your class, in sports groups, choirs, clubs etc.
  • It is natural for people who share a common interest to form a friendship group.
  • You may be part of several different groups at different times in or out of school.
  • You may have a particular close friend who is also part of the same groups as you.

What is a clique?

A clique [say klik] is also a friendship group but it is usually based on their belief that they are an elite [say el-eet] group [better than others] and only people they choose are allowed to join.

  • It is often controlled by one or two people.
  • They focus on becoming popular and powerful.
  • There are boys’ cliques and girls’ cliques and they usually begin in upper primary school.
  • They often have strict rules about being in the group.

For example they may insist on -


Why do some kids join a clique?

There are many different reasons

  • They want to feel ‘cool’ or popular.
  • They want to feel ‘special’.
  • They may feel flattered to be part of the group.
  • They like that there are rules to follow in the group.
  • They like the idea of belonging to a group that doesn’t allow some people to join.
  • They are afraid to be left out.

Are cliques good for you?

It’s great to have friends, but when some people think they are better than other people there can be lots of troubles. Sometimes it can feel good to be in a clique. You might

  • like the feeling of belonging
  • like to feel special
  • like to feel powerful
  • like the feeling of supporting others and being supported
  • like the buzz of being in something which could be a bit risky
  • be afraid of what may happen to you if you don't join the clique.

Unfortunately being in a clique can mean that you can be ‘taken over’ by the more powerful people in the group.

  • Sometimes people in cliques bully people who are not in their group.
  • Sometimes their ‘rules’ can make you unhappy and they can make it hard for you to have friends who are not in the clique.
  • Sometimes cliques are like gangs and you might get some ideas about how they can feel from the topic ‘Gangs’.

How to get out of cliques

As time goes by you may begin to think that you don’t actually share the same values as the clique.  gangs 

As time goes by you may begin to think that you don’t actually share the same values as the clique.

  • Maybe you want to have other friends
  • Maybe you don’t like to be mean to others.
  • Maybe you don’t want to be told what to do, what to wear and how to behave.
  • Maybe you want to be able to follow other interests.
  • Maybe you want to get out of the clique.

If you have been part of a group like this then you know how mean the group can be towards people who are not part of their group. You may be afraid to tell them that you want out of the group.

So, here are a few ideas which may help.

Firstly you could read some other topics to get your confidence up, such as

Resilience - don't let things get you down

Dealing with bullies

Peer group pressure

Self-esteem - feeling good about yourself


  • Look for friends in other parts of your life where the people in the clique do not go.
  • Join a school team, club or interest group which meets during lunch or after school.
  • Look for friends outside the group to hang out with during and after school.
  • Be too ‘busy’ after school, weekends and holidays to join in their activities.
  • Don’t sit with the group in class.
  • Switch off your phone so you can’t get hurtful messages.
  • ‘Unfriend’ or block anyone who wants to upset you on social media.
  • Change your social network sites and your online profile.

Speak up if someone is saying bad things. Our topic “Stick up for yourself—being assertive” may be helpful

Talk to your teacher or school counsellor if the group is being mean to you or someone you know.

Dr Kate says

Everyone wants and needs friends. Young people have the opportunity to have friends in different areas of their lives-school, sport, music, drama, volunteering, chess, dance… and the list goes on!
Dr Kate 

  • It’s normal for kids to want to be part of groups who share the same interests.
  • It’s normal for kids to have one or two close friends.

But becoming part of a clique or a gang can limit your friendships and your activities.
If being mean is not your scene - stay away from cliques. 

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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