In this lesson we are going to explore why so many teenagers obsess over being cool and popular.In it we will cover:
If you have not done so already, make sure you have taken our FREE foundation program The Neutral Parenting Formula: A Blueprint For Raising Successful Teenagers. This will really help you get the most from this lesson otherwise some of the concepts outlined may not make sense. You can access it here for FREE through the end of 2012. After this the program will cost $997.
Before we begin the lesson, I want you to think back to when you were a teenager: how important was it for you to be cool? Were you in the cool group or in the “other” group? Depending on which group you were situated with, how did the phase of “being cool” impact your life? Just take a brief moment to ponder this.
Growing up as a teenager and young adult, I used to produce music events and publish a magazine. So I was ensconced in the club industry and it was all about “being cool”. This material is very important for parents to understand because it really focuses on a deeper issue that our entire society faces: validation and self-worth.
During the teenage years one of the issues that will come up is when your son or daughter is obsessed with being cool and popular. It’s an interesting time in human development when our entire lives are based upon feeling the need to be something we’re not. Because teenagers are in the process of exploring their identity and finding themselves, it’s almost certain that your child will go through this. It’s just a matter of the degree to which they will be absorbed by the process.
The word cool originated back in the 1920’s in jazz clubs where if you were cool, it meant you were someone who knew how to strut your stuff via dancing, the clothes you wore, and the way you talked. It was an acknowledgement that the way you expressed yourself was unique and respected by others. It’s very similar to when a peacock struts its feathers to show off.
In today’s day and age, to be cool or popular is a bit different from how it originally started. Because everyone wants to be cool it’s now more about social acceptance via standing out. There’s still a slight component of being different and unique but because everyone is trying to be different and unique it’s now a form of conformity.
Because of Facebook and other social sites, now more than ever teenagers are obsessing over being cool and popular because “everyone can see” whether or not they are liked or accepted. If a teenager does not have as many friends or “likes” as others, their sense of self-worth diminishes.
I cannot stress this enough in ALL of the lessons in our courses, teenagers are a direct reflection of our society as a whole. Just look at how our politics, media, and corporate culture breeds this type of hierarchy. Even our presidents have to focus so much on their popularity otherwise they wont win. In fact, there are some great leaders out there who would do a much better job then any of our recent presidents but because they do not look “cool”, they do not win. If you do not want your teenager to feel like they are going to “die” unless they are in the popular crowd, you need to help them put this into perspective sooner rather than later.
So why are so many teenagers and young adults obsessed with being cool?
There are four key factors that are happening in your child’s mind and personality construct:
Because most teenager’s feel insecure about who they are and are still unsure of themselves, the safest way for them to feel accepted is to be associated with the “in crowd”. Being socially accepted is something that most humans (regardless of age) strive for and by being cool this is the quickest way to get there.
Being cool and popular helps people get attention. Because they’re insecure about themselves they need this attention to validate who they are so they can feel better about themselves. This is why the lesson on “Validation and Self Worth” is so important so that your child does not depend on external sources to feel good about themselves. What most teenagers are saying is “look at me”. It is this attention they seek so that they can feel better and accepted.
In some circles, being cool is about rebelling. If you remember Happy Days and the Fonz, bikers and thugs were considered cool because they went against the grain. Many teenagers feel that by associating themselves with particular music, clothes, and culture, they’re rebelling and this makes them cool.
4. The Ego
What many people fail to realize is that this truly falls under the ego construct. Everything described above (attention, acceptance, and separation) all have to do with the ego. It’s during the teenage years that the ego is being formed and entrenching its identity. The ego loves to be cool because it will feel more powerful. Its sense of self worth is being established and it gains a hold on your teenager, at least until they can learn to strike a balance between their true self and ego self.
Most guys want to be cool and popular because they want to get laid and be desired by the “hot” girl. Most girls want to be popular because it validates their existence.
1. Let Go
As hard as it may be to watch your teenager like the things they like and do the things they do, you have to let go and provide them a neutral space with no judgment so that they can explore who they are. If you fight them any step of the way it will just turn into rebellion and get worse. So let go, be curious, have fun, and enjoy the ride.
2. Lead By Example
Your teenager is always watching you regardless of whether you think they are or not. Many of the lessons that you’re teaching them by example won’t “hit them” until they get older. It’s during the years that they begin to take inventory of what they’ve been doing and where they’re going that your lessons will be vital. Rest assured, it will all come full circle. If you show them how to live an authentic life and you have your ego in check, they will eventually get there. They’ll likely even get there sooner than later.
3. Help Them Discover Their Authentic Self
If you want to take a proactive approach and get involved with your teenager to try and sway them from trying to be cool, you can offer them other outlets to explore what they want to be and do in life. By getting involved and surrounding them with other opportunities, you give them another choice and direction to head toward. However, as stated above you never want to judge their process nor do you want to force anything upon them. By naturally presenting them other options and letting them choose for themselves (it is VERY important that they choose it for themselves), you will have done the best you can.
How Long Does This Stage Last?
Unfortunately, there is no exact answer here. I know many people in there thirties, forties, and fifties who are still obsessed with being cool and accepted. Remember, if you really want to help guide your teen through this, help them find their authentic self. Once they’re “rewarded” from their peers because of whom they really are, they will start to see their true value and let go of what they think others expect of them.
I am on a mission to help heal this planet because I truly believe that so much of the trauma and drama our society endures stems from the fact that as youth we did not learn how to address our emotions, solve our problems, and discover our authentic selves. If you find any of this material beneficial, please support this school and our message by taking the following actions below.
– Sergio Diazgranados