In fact, it’s the number one goal of American middle-schoolers, say researchers.

When it’s too important, it can lead a child to neglect schoolwork. To be in the “in crowd,” a child might also:

  • Reject old friends who aren’t so popular.
  • Fail to reach out to peers who are treated badly.
  • Drop an extracurricular activity because it’s not “cool.”
  • Take up smoking or other unhealthy habits to fit in.
  • Become anxious and/or depressed.

Parents must watch for these signs. But they must also help children with their struggle to be accepted.

Dwelling on your child’s popularity isn’t the answer. Teaching him compassion is.

To help your child see he can be both popular and nice:

  • Encourage him to take a stand against cruelty. Teach him to treat everyone with respect. Reward him for kindness.
  • eed a passion. Playing chess or camping helps a child develop a range of skills. This makes him more socially adept—and ultimately nicer.
  • Look for fun outside school. Being in religious or volunteer groups helps a child see groups can have different rules of behavior.

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