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Section 5
Popularity and Peer Preferences

Question 5 | Test | Table of Contents

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In the last section, we discussed the five steps in the compromise on conformity technique for parents of excluded adolescents.  These five steps are, paying attention to the adolescent’s style, undergarments, facial or body hair, hygiene, and compromising on media.

In this section, we will discuss helping clients understand four aspects of the ‘clique chick’.  These four aspects are, what makes the clique chick tick, the clique squeeze, rapid responses, and the bottom line.

My client, Tanya, age 15, stated, "I couldn’t believe it!  Recently I started getting invited to parties at Becca’s house!  Becca is the top of everything at school, she’s the perfect clique chick.  I felt so excited, I was finally ‘in’ with those girls.  They helped me pick out a whole new style, new music… But then I started noticing that at these parties, all those girls drink and smoke. I’ve never wanted to get in to that. Then at the last party, I found myself picking up a beer, just because Becca was. The only thing that stopped me drinking the beer was Becca’s parents showing up." 

Sound familiar?  How often have you treated a client who found him or herself falling in to imitating a clique chick, even to the point of going against his or her own personal values?

4 Aspects of the 'Clique Chick'

Aspect # 1 - What Makes the ‘Clique Chick Tick’
Since Tanya used the phrase ‘clique chick’ to describe Becca, I adopted this phrase when working with Tanya. I have found that a first aspect of helping clients like Tanya understand clique chicks is discussing what makes the ‘clique chick tick’.

As you know, most clients can easily identify a clique chick as a popular girl who never goes anywhere without her entourage, and seems more concerned with boys and makeup than academics. Clique chicks are usually the center of many girls attention. This social status can often seem very appealing. I explain to clients like Tanya that an alternate way to understand ‘clique chicks’ is to recognize that in many cases, these clique chicks are girls who cannot yet stand on their own two feet. 

I explained to Tanya, "Many times, clique chicks feel unloved at home.  Their parents may be busy all of the time, or their families may not be warm when it comes to love.  This means that many clique chicks have to get their sense of importance and affections from their peers in the clique."  I also explain to my clients that whatever a clique chick’s age, she has picked up adult characteristics  prematurely.  Often, a clique chick is fifteen going on 25. 

The result, as you know, is that a clique chick is a pseudo grown up on one hand, but very immature on the other, with a childlike value system.  In order to make up for what they feels they are missing, some clique chicks even turn their own mothers, sisters, and other relatives into part of their entourage.

Aspect # 2 - Clique Squeeze
A second aspect of helping clients understand clique chicks is the clique squeeze.  As Tanya experienced, the clique squeeze may seem harmless at first; for example how Becca’s friends encouraged Tanya to adopt a certain style.  However, as you know, this squeeze may rapidly expand to dictating who girls can and cannot date, mandating being cruel to other girls, or mandating risky behaviors such as drinking and drug use. 

I ask clients like Tanya to take a moment to consider what may seem to be even benign peer pressure in cliques.  What are peers really asking her or him to do?  For girls, or boys, feeling the clique squeeze from a clique chick, I recommended Tany  focus on herself, talents, and potential.  I stated to Tanya, "Rather than spending a lot of energy on trying to please the alphas and betas in the clique, focus on being the strong gamma you are, and what enhances who you are."

Aspect # 3 - Three Rapid Response Skills
In addition to what makes a clique chick tick and the clique squeeze, a third aspect of understanding the clique chick is gaining rapid response skills. 
-- A. Cold Shoulder. A first rapid response skill is for students to give clique chicks the cold shoulder and concentrate on developing their own unique style. 
-- B. Popular is Ordinary. A second rapid response skill involves having the student remind him or herself about the literal meaning of the word ‘popular’ when she or he feels the clique squeeze.  I remind my clients that the literal meaning of the word ‘popular’ is ‘ordinary’.  Does your client want to spend all her or his time worrying what others want her or him to do, just to be ‘ordinary?’ 
-- C. Share with Others. Finally, a third rapid response skill is to share techniques for dealing with clique chicks and the clique squeeze with other girls.  I suggested to Tanya that she start sharing techniques for resisting clique chicks with her younger sister, Danielle.  I stated to Tanya, "By teaching others how to be strong in the face of peer pressure, you are allowing your own strength to grow."

Tanya stated, "I understand what you’re saying, but does this mean I shouldn’t dress like the other girls?  What if I really like their style?"  I answered, "No, not at all.  Fashion can be fun, and it can be important.  There’s no reason you should get a pair of the new hot color of nail polish.  What is important is to use common sense and make your own decisions." 

3-Step Technique: Fad Check
I suggested Tanya try the three step Fad Check technique to make sure her decisions were based on what she wanted.  The three steps in the Fad check technique are as follows:
-- Step # 1. Fads are fun if they aren’t overdone.  If a fad is within your budget, looks great on you, and has your parent’s ok, there’s no reason not to go for it!
-- Step # 2. Don’t follow fads blindly.  Pick and choose what to try or buy carefully.  Does it make a statement about who you are and who you want to be?  One of the greatest things about fashion is individuality.  Don’t lose your individuality trying to keep up with a clique chick.  Use fashion choices to express something unique about you.
-- Step # 3.  Give yourself a reality check next time you go crazy because you just have to have that new dress and nothing else will do.  No matter what fad you’re following, don’t forget to be giving to others.  If you find yourself all caught up in who’s shopping where, take a look through your closet.  What about those clothes you don’t wear any more?  If they’re just taking up room in your closet, why not donate them to a clothing drive or your local Goodwill?  Doing good deeds for others can be fun, too, and can help get your mind off the clique chick’s latest jeans.

Aspect # 4 - The Bottom Line
A fourth aspect of understanding the clique chick is the bottom line.  I stated to Tanya, "If you find yourself feeling like you have to get caught up in the latest fads like the clique chicks, remind yourself that fads fade.  You are in charge.  If the newest fad doesn’t suit who you are, you can let it pass by.  Something will come up to replace it soon." 

I also encouraged Tanya to ask herself each time she became involved with a clique chick to ask herself, "what makes this clique tick?"  If the clique squeeze is all about friendship or a worthy cause, it might be worth joining in.  But if the clique squeeze is all for show, you might encourage your client to step back and think about what he or she truly wants.

Think of your Tanya.  Would understanding how the clique chicks operate help her or him make better decisions regarding her or his peers?  Would providing her or him with the Fad Check technique be helpful to her or him?

In this section, we have discussed helping clients understand four aspects of the ‘clique chick’.  These four aspects are, what makes the clique chick tick, the clique squeeze, rapid responses, and the bottom line.

In the next section, we will discuss three factors regarding the impact of manipulation on a client within a clique structure.  These three factors are, the emotional toll of manipulation, diminished self-reliance and self-esteem, and entrapment and victimization.  At the end of the section I will explain the Take Five technique.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Dawes, M., & Xie, H. (2014). The role of popularity goal in early adolescents’ behaviors and popularity status. Developmental Psychology, 50(2), 489–497.

Ho, D. Y. F. (2010). Pooled peer ratings, self-ratings, and estimated ratings of therapeutic communication and popularity: A relational analysis. The Humanistic Psychologist, 38(4), 317–335.

Ojanen, T., & Findley-Van Nostrand, D. (2014). Social goals, aggression, peer preference, and popularity: Longitudinal links during middle school. Developmental Psychology, 50(8), 2134–2143.

What are the four aspects of the ‘clique chick’?
To select and enter your answer go to Test.

Section 6
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