Friday, July 31, 2015

Avoiding everything that is cool

When you become a parent, you are instantly not cool anymore. It doesn't matter what type of diaper bag, high-tech stroller or lifestyle you still try to maintain: You have oatmeal in your hair and you are carrying around the tools needed to clean up someone else's poop. (Please stop deluding yourself - you just aren't cool now.)

But hopefully, you are OK with that. Hopefully you have learned that being cool is not all it's cracked up to be. Especially if you are only 13.

In this (frankly scary) long-term study of behavior over a decade, researchers watched 13-year-olds who were defined as cool by their peers and their behaviors over a decade, and determined that in most instances, life didn't turn out that well for them. The rush into what the study defines as "psuedomature behaviors" at 13 set those children up for trouble in their 20s. The children who were earmarked as cool at the onset of their teenage years tended to have the following characteristics:
  • A collection of attractive friends
  • More intense and frequent romantic relationships
  • Brushes with minor delinquency (like skipping school)
But a decade later, most of the children in the study were still chasing popularity and faced lives where they were stuck remembering their glory days and failing to grow up.

It's important to note that not all of the cool kids at the beginning of the study struggled to find their place in the world a decade later. Several children were able to refocus their lives with the help and guidance of their families.

So, how do we help our tweens learn that being cool is not the goal? Here are a few tips:
  • Encourage your child's friendships with lots of different people.
  • Don't turn them into little fashionistas and trend-setters.
  • Talk about the values you have as a family and then lead by example.
  • Let them watch The Breakfast Club. (What? It's a great movie. I know that it is rated R, but that is a rating from 1985, and it teaches empathy.)
What are your tips for avoiding coolness at all costs? Tell me in the comments.

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