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.

 

 

 

 

 

Model What You Want Them To Be

Today I am borrowing from a much wiser and well known writer to help convey an important parenting concept.  If like me, you grew up hearing “Do as I say not as I do,”  and tried that as a way of parenting, you probably have already discovered that it doesn’t work.  Integrity is a much better basket to put your eggs in.  Kids today see through anything less.  Being the role model you want for them, empowers you as well.

Dr. Wayne Dyer

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Wayne’s Weekly Wisdom “If you model self-pride and self-worth for your children, they will in turn leave the nest with an absence of stress and turmoil for all concerned.”

I have the following saved on my desktop because it profoundly demonstrates the importance of our awareness of our own behavior.  I notice too much explosive behavior, loss of control, and spewed anger that is justified with ridiculous excuses that make perfect sense to the person explaining them.   Is society becoming numb to inexcusable behavior? Parents and other relatives of children are their role models and need to be cognizant of their actions at all times.

This was Wayne’s last Facebook post.

I was preparing to speak at an I Can Do It conference and I decided to bring an orange on stage with me as a prop for my lecture. I opened a conversation with a bright young fellow of about twelve who was sitting in the front row.

“If I were to squeeze this orange as hard as I could, what would come out?” I asked him.

He looked at me like I was a little crazy and said, “Juice, of course.”

“Do you think apple juice could come out of it?”

“No!” he laughed.

“What about grapefruit juice?”

“No!”

“What would come out of it?”

“Orange juice, of course.”

“Why? Why when you squeeze an orange does orange juice come out?”

He may have been getting a little exasperated with me at this point.

“Well, it’s an orange and that’s what’s inside.”

I nodded.

“Let’s assume that this orange isn’t an orange, but it’s you. And someone squeezes you, puts pressure on you, says something you don’t like, offends you. And out of you comes anger, hatred, bitterness, fear. Why? The answer, as our young friend has told us, is because that’s what’s inside.”

It’s one of the great lessons of life. What comes out when life squeezes you? When someone hurts or offends you? If anger, pain and fear come out of you, it’s because that’s what’s inside. It doesn’t matter who does the squeezingyour mother, your brother, your children, your boss, the government. If someone says something about you that you don’t like, what comes out of you is what’s inside. And what’s inside is up to you, it’s your choice.

When someone puts the pressure on you and out of you comes anything other than love, it’s because that’s what you’ve allowed to be inside. Once you take away all those negative things you don’t want in your life and replace them with love, you’ll find yourself living a highly functioning life.

Thanks, my young friend, and here’s an orange for you!

I was impressed with Wayne’s understanding and explanation that negativity within is a choice.    Choose peace, calm, patience  and love and you and everyone around you benefits.

 

 

 

Is it Possible that you have Limiting Beliefs?

The news this week was full and controversial! The Supreme Court as you know legalized gay/ lesbian marriage, and with it came soooooo many opinions! The president announced that the healthcare act is here to stay. The Confederate flag is coming down in so many places and everyone has an opinion- or 3. The most outstanding part of it all is not so much the actual incidents that occurred but the reactions of people. Oh the comments I read on Facebook and they are my “friends”! What happened to having a belief and listening to someone else’s openly without judgment and criticism? So much name calling and generalization! One meme in particular lined up the 3 happenings above with a comment something to do with “Take that Republicans!” I thought they were individual human and civil rights issues and was surprised to the reference to politics.   So much generalization, assumption and even discrimination!

I used to be staunchly protective and defensive of my beliefs so I get some of it, but I also have learned a valuable lesson that began small and grows every day. That is the concept of Limiting Beliefs.   While learning about this I questioned many of my own beliefs asking myself not so much why I believed that but if in fact I really did. It was surprising how many of the opinions I defended were not mine, but something that was passed down during early childhood.   Who knows for how many generations that belief has been strong, or what the catalyst for that belief was. It may have been valid for that time and that situation, but out of context it makes no sense. And yet the belief continues to grow.

During contemplation, I have also discovered that beliefs can come from ignorance- not having all the facts, becoming emotionally connected to a concept based on someone else’s emotions, or jumping to conclusions. Whatever the inception of the belief, it is a personal one for which everyone should be responsible.

I avoid general online areas that allow for comments like after videos or stills that come up with a specific topic because most of the time I find it distressing. So many comments have no other intent than to diminish the validity of other human beings. Name calling and jokes is a painful and unnecessary part of growing up, and yet it is alive and well throughout the internet sites presumably posted by adults. Everybody has an opinion and it is the right one. Sadly it is part of their belief that being right somehow gives them the right to ridicule and reduce the self worth of others.

I recommend self-analysis of beliefs. It is cathartic and freeing in that it allows you to discover the true you of your heart unencumbered by hidden influences. The beliefs with which you find a deep resonance are yours but not necessarily anyone else’s. Be OK with that. It doesn’t diminish the validity of your belief. You are good without anyone else’s agreement. There are too many proverbial bandwagons and they are all standing room only. You don’t need to wait in line to jump on. Know yourself and be true to yourself.

It is time to find a place where the greater good of Americans is the focus in all our hearts. I almost wrote, “It is time to get back to ……”   but then questioned whether we have had a period of time where it was truly about the greater good. Even today many fortify their opinion by saying, “The American people want”, or “It is for the American people”. We sure like to hear that their plan is for “We the People”!   Is it? Are they coming from their hearts or their egos? Am I? Are you? Whether for ourselves, our families, our communities or country, isn’t it time to come from our hearts? Analyzing our beliefs helps us determine if we are doing that.