Seeking Popularity Among Teens
Seeking popularity is natural among teens, as long as it’s within normal parameters. Socializing becomes fundamental to their lives. Teens need to identify with their social circle, and feel they belong and are accepted.
Sometimes we see everything that happens during adolescence as a tangle of problems. We categorize their behaviors as complex, difficult, and conflicted, which just makes the process of change even more difficult.
Puberty is a stage in which physical changes are evident. Hormones play an important role, and teenagers are trying to build their identities. Their emotions are unstable, and it’s natural that sometimes even they themselves can’t understand what is happening to them.
As adults who live with teenagers, whether parents, family members, or teachers, we must always remember that these changes affect them in different was and that it’s important for us to stay empathetic and open to listening to them and understanding them.
During this stage, kids are trying to figure out who they really are. Family stops being the center of the universe, and their friends and the world around them become the reference point for everything. This makes popularity a cornerstone for teenagers.
Insecurity and low self-esteem can become dangerous when they’re combined with the pursuit of popularity. This is where we must be very alert to the signals teens are sending us.
Risks of seeking popularity
Being someone you’re not
We must try to help our teens act in positive and authentic ways rather than pretend to be someone they’re not in order to fit in.
In the end, these false roles end up doing the opposite. They can cause peers to see someone as untrustworthy.
Seeking approval can lead teens to hide emotions that aren’t socially acceptable, such as sadness. In the end this can become a lifelong habit, and lead to adults who are unable to access their emotions.
If teenagers don’t have good guidance and an example to follow, they can fall into exhibitionist behavior to get attention and have more followers, especially on social media.
If they’re focused only on seeking popularity, without giving any weight to building true connections, they’ll create shallow, short friendships.
What can parents do?
Communication and reflection
Communication is a process that needs to be maintained from the time children are young.
Many parents who haven’t kept this channel open think that when their children reach puberty they’ll tell them everything. Wrong! You must always stay close and maintain an open and observant relationship with them.
If you see that teenagers are too concerned about popularity, ask what their motivations are and encourage them to reflect on them.
What do they think they’ll get from popularity? What will they do if they become very popular? Do they think their life will change radically?
Build healthy relationships
This is an excellent stage for teenagers to join sports teams, form a band, or get involved in any hobby they’re interested in. This will help them create bonds that are based on more than just the simple fact of being known.
Respect is most important
Fostering respect for yourself and for others is fundamental. It’s one of the other attributes to teach children from the time they’re young.
Self-respect is one of the fundamental values to instil in teens. We should encourage them to take on challenges and grow, yet with their feet on the ground and without hurting anyone, including themselves.
We mustn’t forget that seeking popularity is crucial for teenagers. It’s up to us to give them the support they need so it doesn’t become a dangerous weapon that can hurt them or others.
Remember that adolescence doesn’t suddenly appear overnight. It’s a growth process, and as a result we must offer our children the tools they need to face it starting in childhood.