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Sunday, February 3, 2008

Popularity... does it define our children?


High school can be the best of times, or the worst of times for many teens. Popularity or the lack of it can be a major issue for teens. Let's look at recent research and the current trends as it relates to teen popularity and the price teens may pay for their social acceptance.

What are some of the research findings related to popularity?
• Popular teens tend to be well adjusted and have heightened social skills
• Research shows that popular teens display increases in alcohol and substance abuse (risky behaviors are seen as cool). Popular teens are more likely to get into trouble for minor alcohol, drug and minor deviant behaviors vs non-popular teens
• Popular teens tend to be lower levels of hostility
• Popular teens are attuned to the norms of the group and can read what is allowable within the group.

There has been a recent study related to popularity and weight. What did they discover?
• Girls who believed they were unpopular gained more weight in a two year period than those who see themselves as popular
• Popular girls tend to gain typical (normal) weight during adolescence, while unpopular girls tend to gaining an average of twice that of popular girls.
• Weight gain is determined by where a girl views herself in the ladder of popularity… that is to say it is all based on her self-evaluation of her position within her peer group.

What are some tips for helping our teens with social acceptance and popularity?
• Reinforce our children’s unique talents. If teens learn to believe in their assets and talents their self esteem will soar
• Be a cheerleader for your child and remember the power of positive words in their life. Words hold an amazing power, especially related to teens and their self esteem and worth
• Help your teen find a group that fits them. Popularity is based on social acceptance and having friends who are there for you. Reinforce your teen’s need to find devoted friends who have similar interests and talents.
• Lead by example. Teach your child to embrace others, and let the lessons begin with you.

• Teach your child about diversity and celebrating everyone’s specialness

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