As children transition into adolescence, most will do everything they can to fit in. From the way they dress to the way they act, their popularity is a primary concern. But new research suggests that teens who try to act too “cool” in early adolescence may be more likely to experience a range of problems when they become adults.
Results of a decade-long study by researchers at the University of Virginia indicate that teens who were romantically involved at an early age, placed value in hanging out only with physically attractive people and engaged in delinquent activity were more likely to have problems with alcohol and drugs later in life, as well as engage in criminal activity. They also appeared to be less socially competent in adulthood than their less popular peers.
Of course, not every teen who is considered popular is at risk. But if you notice your preteen or young adolescent is acting out or engaging in questionable behavior in order to fit in, schedule an appointment with a child psychiatrist. If children build confidence and develop healthy interests at a young age, the obsession with being “cool” will fade as they chase more worthy pursuits.