e love our children! Relating to our younger children is easy. You’re teaching them things such as, sharing, caring, empathy, kindness, manners, politeness, and simple rules. But what about when they reach an age where their problems become harder? Social skills are very difficult to face, and to understand, in most cases. We, ourselves, have trouble in social settings sometimes, and the last we want to see is that our child is suffering in social situations, making us feel helpless. We cannot walk our older children, or Teens, to class, and make sure that no one makes them feel bad about themselves. Can we? I know sometimes we want to, but it’s just not possible. All we can do is talk to our children as they get older and make sure that they are aware that no matter what, the most important thing to remember, is that they are true to themselves, and being unique is celebrated! As their true selves, they are are enough, loved, and special! Is popularity important? Not necessarily, in fact, it can be damaging. Also, we need to explain the difference between popularity vs. real friends.
I like to let my children know that as long as they have true friends in their lives, that’s all that matters.
I’m going to outline some tips and facts about popularity in school, and how we should talk to our Teens about it.
Sometimes as parents, we don’t know or see details aside from the bigger picture of popularity. It’s almost black and white. However, there are other categories that could make our teens feel bad about fitting in, such as Social Exclusion. Social exclusion is described when your Teen doesn’t get invited to social gatherings, parties, etc. There should be a conversation about this to make sure that your Teen is OK when he or she does not get invited to certain gatherings. Before you pick up the phone to ream the other child’s parents, remember that your job is not to fight your child’s battle, but rather help them fight their own. Find out what’s going on, and help them find the reason to why they weren’t invited, as well as a solution to the situation.
The Cost of Popularity
As a parent, it’s very important that you outline what your Teen could be giving up about themselves, just to fit in. You should also help him or her know that they should not be willing to give up anything about their true selves in order to fit in with a group or crowd.
According to Psychology Today these are the costs of Popularity:
Popularity requires pleasing – you must strive to be nice to people who you want to keep liking you.
Popularity takes being current – you have to look cool, keep up with what’s happening, and stay cutting edge.
Popularity is precarious – people can vote you in and they can vote you out, and “elections” can be held at a moment’s notice when you accidentally offend or someone “better” comes along.
Popularity is partly unpopular – while some people admire you, others envy you, can get jealous, and want to bring you down.
Popularity attracts imitators – people act like you so they can be liked by you, and liked by others by acting like you.
Popularity breeds insincerity – you may often fake being nice to people, and people may often fake being nice to you.
Popularity is confusing – sometimes you wonder if people want to be your friend because of who you are or because you’re popular.
Popularity attracts attention – you are noticed more, judged more, your flaws and failings are more closely observed, and you are more gossiped about.
Popularity is competitive – since so many people want to be popular, you have to perform your best against your rivals every day.
Popularity can go to your head – popular people can believe their own reviews and act special or entitled, injuring friendships they thought secure.
Popularity can be demeaning – people who pursue popularity will sometimes accept mistreatment from more popular people just to be accepted.
Most important, popularity and friendship are not the same. Popularity is political; friendship is personal. Popularity is about rank; friendship is about relationship. Popularity is more casual; friendship is more caring. This goes back to what I was saying earlier about Popularity vs True Friends. The last thing we want to witness is our Teen discovering that they have been betrayed by who they believed to be their friends.
I feel that empowerment is the best possible way to make sure that our Teens are confident, and will make good decisions. We need to make sure that our Teens have a strong sense of Self. This will help with other Teen problems such as Peer Pressure, etc.
In closing, parenting is not an easy job, and as they get older, their problems will get harder. We may not always know that correct answers, but remember that most of all, we need to make sure our children know how special they are, and how valuable they are. We don’t want them wasting their time on trying to be popular when there are so much more important life experiences that they could be having in these important years.