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You're right to be concerned about cliquish behavior. This is an important time for grade-schoolers to learn about friendships, how to respect others, and how not to hurt others' feelings. While it may strike you as cliquish, though, keep in mind that "group friendships" are normal at this age. Just as you do, your child forms circles of friends (which may rotate over time as his interests and social opportunities change) and prefers the company of some children to others. It's also important for him to have a "best friend," even if it means that he and his buddy occasionally end up excluding a third child.
Of course, having a group of friends — or one inseparable one — doesn't mean it's okay to give other children the cold shoulder. To discourage cliquishness and to minimize hurt feelings, be a good role model for your grade-schooler. Remember: Children learn by observation, so when you chat with your own pals in front of your child, be careful not to trade gossip or snicker about someone outside your circle. Be sure to encourage his better instincts, too. Saying, "You and your friends seemed to be having such a good time together!" lets him know that you value his growing social skills.
When your grade-schooler purposely excludes another child, gently explore the ramifications of that action. "Corey seemed sad when you and Sam said he couldn't go with you to the park," you might say. Follow up by asking him, "How would you feel if that happened to you? What could you say next time that wouldn't make Corey feel so bad?"
Remind yourself that your grade-schooler is still getting a handle on the social graces. While he does, give him lots of opportunities to be successful, respect his choice of friends, and keep the lines of communication open. Developing friendships and learning to be kind to others is a process. Grade school is prime time for working on it!