Who are the Cool Kids?

Echosmith’s “Cool Kids” was playing on the car radio as my grandson and I were traveling.  Afterwards I asked him who the cool kids are.  He only hesitated a second or two before responding that kids like him are the cool kids because they don’t try to make anyone like them.  They like who they are and are happy being themselves.  He continued to tell me that kids that are trying to be cool, to be liked, are usually mean in the process.  It is so important to have certain kids like them that they are hurtful to others.  They are not being themselves.   My grandson is eleven.

Imagine for a second that the definition of cool kids in school was- a young person who is confident and happy being themselves and wishes the same for all others. Wouldn’t that put a whole new spin on social dynamics in  school at all levels?

My daughter had really nice friends in school for whom I was grateful.  I recognized the group of friends without consciously acknowledging that it was a group and that groups have boundaries.  Groups with boundaries often have invisible gates that adults don’t see, but other children know they are there.   The gates became visible to me as a teacher when a young person I knew entered middle school and made a new friend and was included somewhat into her circle of friends.    They were having a wonderful time getting to know each other.  A few weeks into the school year,  the  group surrounded my friend unexpectedly and informed her that the other child was in their group,  the group didn’t feel she fit in with them, and she was no longer welcome.  “You don’t belong”, they told her.  The new friend stood by and watched, then left with them, whispering, “Sorry”.  The devastation this child felt was deep and painful.  As a teacher I  became more aware of the silent social hurt that happens without adult knowledge because I knew the victim personally.

In 1995, Patricia A and Peter Adler published in Social Psychology Quarterly ,Vol. 58, No. 3 (Sep., 1995), pp. 145-162, “Dynamics of Inclusion and Exclusion in Preadolescent Cliques.  They concluded that the inclusion and exclusion of children is the center of the later elementary years cliques,  and that this social framework impacts their character and is carried over to adulthood. imagesRHGZENLW “Cliques are circles of power wherein leaders attain and wield influence over their followers by cyclically building them up and cutting them down, first drawing them into the elite inner circle and allowing them to bask in the glow of popularity and acceptance, and then reducing them to positions of dependence and subjugation by turning the group against them.”  Their findings included a leaning toward discrimination as adults.

As parents look at their children’s friends they should ask themselves if the relationship is positively supportive of their child making their own decisions, having age appropriate activities and living from their heart. If within a specific group a child is insecure on their own,  lacks confidence to stick up for themselves and their values, is unkind to others including siblings, feels too powerful, or becomes sneaky, the group dynamic needs attention.  Being one of the cool kids may not be in the best interest of that child.

In researching I noticed that a “cool kids” definition may be different within different communities.  While I see the cool kids as popular, they have usually also been good students and often athletes or musicians, but within a group setting do see others not included as less than themselves or their group.   The studies done on cool kids in middle school through young adulthood define them differently,  with one explanation in an article, “Cool at 13, Adrift at 23”.   Jan Hoffman,writer for the New York Times quoted, Dr. Joseph P Allen, psychology professor  at the University  of Virginia, who described them as fast tracked, socially precocious risk takers.  Dr. Allen’s study found that “psudomature” behavior in adolescence was a greater predictor of drug and alcohol abuse as a young adult than was actual use of drugs or alcohol in the middle school ages.

However “cool” is defined in your child’s social life, it is clear that your awareness may be even more necessary than when they were younger.  Everything in their lives is a stage, but each stage is a basis for the next.  Knowing where they are heading is valuable.  Sometimes you have to step in.  At one time I was accused of being unfair and critical of young man.  When asked how I could dislike someone I didn’t know, I responded, “You are right.  He may be a very nice boy.  I am not judging him.  I am judging you, and I don’t like who you are  when you are in his company.”

While supporting social growth of older children, parents need to keep foremost  in their mind what they want for their children, leaving their own past experience with group dynamics out of the equation.    Help them be themselves first and foremost, holding onto their character  in the presence of their peers.

 

 

 

 

 

Give Gratitude Effortlessly

Life is busy.  Even when time is afforded for myself, there are still many things floating through my head, and at the end of the day, I think to myself,  “Did you give gratitude today?”   I have realized that gratitude does not have to be spoken or even thought, but it does have to be felt.  Gratitude takes place in the heart more than the brain.

Think about it. A child accomplishes something and comes running to you to share with pride.  You don’t think, “I am grateful that he was successful and wanted to share it with me.”  You do feel and share his happiness with a big smile and maybe even a hug, and a few kind words of encouragement.   Are these not expressions of gratitude?

Another scenario may be arriving home after a long day of work, and busy traffic on your commute. Before getting out of the car, you sit a moment and take a deep breath, slowly letting it out.  You may not give gratitude for completing the day, arriving safely, or having a moment of peace and calm, but in that slow breath, are you not conveying that message?

Spoken gratitude is a gift to others as well as yourself in that it keeps you mentally grateful.  But it is far more than words; gratitude is a feeling you express from your heart.  It is found in a smile, a sigh, recognition of something beautiful in nature.  Acknowledgment of God’s creations is a form of gratitude, as is respect for the purity of waterways, and the sky and other gifts of the universe .  Compassion for living beings shows gratitude for their creation.

Living a life of kindness, responsibility, love and integrity is showing gratitude for all you have.  Verbalizing is a wonderful thing but living a life of gratitude and appreciation from the heart is expressing your true self, and at that time gratitude becomes effortless.

Thanks for participating!

Beth

Beginning the Year in Gratitude

Life is primarily choices, not that you can choose things that happen to you, but how you react to them.  Life bring, disease, accidents,  and other hardships, but whether you suffer through it or not, is a choice.  There was a time I would have disagreed with it, telling myself that I just didn’t understand.   Gratefully I understood better by the time the end of my mother’s life came to be.  I could have been frustrated, angry, impatient, but was not.  I understood this was her path, not mine and was able to help her through it without taking anything personally.  She was surrounded by my Loving Self until the end. For that I am grateful.

Each day offers the same thing-  a choice of how we will look at the things that come our way.  gratitudes

Be grateful.  For every negative thought that comes into your head, find something to be grateful for. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.  I am blessed to live overlooking a beautiful lake.  I begin my days looking out and being grateful for my surroundings and my life.

Follow gratitudes with affirmations of how your life is or will be.   Some affirmations I have borrowed and use are:

1. Today is going to be a great day.
2. I am grateful!
3. I will do good today.
4.  Everything is happening perfectly.
5.  I act from a place of love and courage.
6.  I am enough.
7.  I hold my well being sacred.
8. I am positive.
9. I am love and I love.
10. I am accepting and forgiving.
Affirmations each morning provide a direction for the day.  Rather than getting up and taking off on the fly, simple positive statements like these can guide your thinking from the beginning. Your thoughts control your beliefs so being aware of how you think is very important.limiting belief3
If you are new to positive and grateful thinking, it takes practice, and you can exaggerate at first to expand thinking positively.  You may think your affirmations are not truthful or you really don’t have that much for which to be grateful, but as you continue, your thinking will come around.  Now wouldn’t you like a new year with more smiles, joy, appreciation, gratefulness, and love?  It can happen.  Your thinking creates your demeanor and your demeanor impacts what you manifest.
Smile at strangers, hug your loved ones, value your well being and care for yourself.  Respect others.  Leave judgment and criticism in 2015.  Show your Loving Self in 2016.
 treat people like treesWishing you a blessed new year!
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