I know that you will especially enjoy today’s topic since your teens have either just started school or are about to begin. I want to tell you a bit about teens, popularity, and how teens think about each other. Basically, I’d like you to take heart in knowing that you should encourage your teens to make good friends rather than to focus on being popular.
First, you should be aware of the teen social pyramid. I am not talking about the food pyramid here, but instead about your teen’s social standing. Nonetheless, this is some tasty food for thought. The pyramid goes something like this. Approximately, 15% of any grade is made up of the POPULARS-trendsetters, athletic, and attractive kids. A much larger percentage-45% of any grade is made up of ACCEPTED kids who may either have one or several good friends. Let me tell you, though, that these accepted kids tend to be able to handle rejection well because they have supportive friends who have their back through the struggles of the teen years. Now, you are probably wondering where the rest of the grade falls.
Here goes… Approximately, 20% of a grade falls into the AMBIGUOUS category called that because they are neither hated nor loved. They,too, tend to fare well because they have friends. Finally, there is the bottom 20% of the social pyramid which sadly is comprised of NEGLECTED and REJECTED kids. It is this group that we need to worry about. We will have a discussion about those kids on another day. I promise.
Today, I would simply like to emphasize that your teen does not need to fit into the popular category to be happy. Having good friends appears to be the key to doing well. And, we all know that popular does not necessarily imply kindness, thoughtfulness, and being a good friend. In my 20+ years of working with teens I have seen many popular teens turn on each other and be very exclusive. Do your teens a favor and encourage them to focus on making good friends rather than to chase after the often elusive populars.
And, remind them that popularity in high school is certainly not associated with life success. We will have a lively conversation about high school reunions later on this week and will compare notes about how the popular teens fare over time. Stay tuned.