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The Teen Popularity Handbook cover If you like our website content, you’ll love this book!

It is the only book of its kind. It is the handbook of how to be a popular teen, teaching you how to develop the skills to be successful in high school and beyond. Every teen, parent, grandparent, etc, needs this book.

Order The Teen Popularity Handbook Today

From the back of the book:

Any teen can become popular!

When you’re popular, life is exciting. Popular people are surrounded by close friends, fans, and secret admirers. They have the skills to form meaningful romantic relationships and rarely get bullied, because they have the confidence to stand up for themselves and others.

Wouldn’t it feel great to give a class presentation without anxiety? To have the confidence and right words to ask that special someone to the dance? Or to be able to read your crush’s body language to know what he or she really thinks about you?

How would your life change if you replaced your feelings of loneliness, awkwardness, and frustration with happiness and self-confidence?

But…Can you be popular? Yes! Popular teens think and act in ways that make them loved and admired. This book reveals these scientifically-backed “popularity secrets” and makes learning and applying them in your life fun and easy.

Don’t worry, The Teen Popularity Handbook isn’t going to turn you into a bully or “mean girl,” but a confident, fun, and well-liked teen everyone wants to get to know. Also, since studies show that popular high-schoolers earn more money later in life than unpopular teens, the benefits of being popular never end. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to start your exciting transformation into a popular teen right now!

280 pages. 

Order today in paperback and Kindle!

It’s Homecoming Time

It’s Homecoming time for high school students. That means it’s also time for the stress and anxiety that comes from Homecoming. It really is a stressful time for many teens. However, we’ve written a series of posts helping teens navigate the difficulties of Homecoming. Check out:

Asking A Girl Out for Homecoming (Don’t Overthink It)

Our Four Part Homecoming Survival Guide

The Most Ineffective Discipline Method

man wagging finger

Image courtesy of ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When I was twelve years old a friend of mine called a girl “ugly.” Sure he was being very rude, but the truth is, he liked this girl and it was his (extremely) awkward and ineffective way of flirting. His grandma came out and proceeded to give us a ten minute talking to that managed to bring in Jesus, judgment, and a whole host of other topics. I don’t remember them, because, like all lectures I received, I pretended to be contrite while proceeding to ignore every other word. Then, later we laughed about it. In fact, David and I still laugh about it to this day.

While certain discipline methods are inappropriate or criminal, of the commonly accepted ones, the most ineffective has to be lecturing. And, it makes sense if you think about it. Everyone hates lecturing. And this includes adults, especially parents who constantly lecture their kids. What adult wants to be lectured by a boss, a spouse, or a friend? I can’t think of one. And yet, since we’ve been lectured so many times (by teachers, etc.), we revert to what we know, even though it doesn’t work.

Lecturing doesn’t work for a couple of reasons. First, it is simply telling the kid what he or she already knows. Most older kids know right from wrong. For a variety of reasons they just make poor choices. And, telling them what they did was wrong in a long winded fashion is overkill. Lecturing is usually telling a kid what they already know. Even if it’s information they don’t know, the tone and implications in lecturing aren’t really educational and motivational. So, they tune it out and resent it.

Second, lecturing provides nothing to people. The lecturer might think it makes an impact, but it usually doesn’t. This is because it’s focused typically on shame, guilt, and the negative. While everything we do can’t be positive, even negative consequences need a positive angle. Otherwise it just leads to frustration and despair on the part of the person being disciplined.

So, lecturing is very ineffective. The best way to impact a child is to let them know what they did was wrong, possibly apply a consequence (like taking away something), then positively motivate them to do better. It could be thinking of a reward, tapping into their internal motivation, or anything else. But, if there’s one thing that is ineffective, it’s a ten minute long lecture that they don’t listen to and make fun of later.

Parents: Three Tricks To Get Your Kids To Actually Listen To You

Family photoI was at a girls soccer game recently, and the players were taking a brief water break and glanced over and saw me. I was having a conversation with a parent, and they pointed at me and said “We’re winning this for you Mr. Bennett!” The parent laughed and said, “Hey, there are other people on the sidelines too. I guess all we do is pay the bills!” He said it in good fun and was laughing.

This illustrates a great point about parent-teen relationships. Many parents find that their kids won’t listen to them, and instead listen to and even admire others over and above them. Even when parents are genuinely trying to connect to their kids, their kids resist. How can you as a parent connect to your kids when it seems impossible?

1. Remember the “Gratitude Ratio”

I read a few years ago (honestly I can’t remember where) that in order for someone to take your criticism as constructively (as opposed to consider it nitpicking) you have to have previously praised and encouraged them eight times.

Did you read that? If you want someone to listen to your criticism genuinely, you have to encourage him or her at an 8 to 1 encouragement to criticism ratio. I suppose it boils down to trust. You know that if someone has encouraged you eight times, that any criticism coming from them is more likely to be coming from a place of genuine concern rather than angry nitpicking. We call this 8-1 encouragement to criticism ratio “The Gratitude Ratio.”

Many parents find themselves constantly finding reasons to criticize their kids. It seems like the only “news” they focus on relating to their kids is bad news. But is it really??

Many parents become sensitized to the good things they kids are doing. They ignore the regular goodness of their own kids. They pay attention to rare bad thing instead of the string of good things their kids do most of the day. A “C” on a test? The kid get yelled at. The three “As” before that? Barely a word of praise.

Keep this in mind when interacting with your kids. It is important to offer praise and encouragement for the things that you may consider expected behavior. Even something as simple as a kid getting home on time regularly is worthy of a “thank you.” I make it a point to encourage my students whenever I can. I don’t make up stuff to praise them, but I find the admirable things they do and point them out. This makes your kid much more likely to hear you out when you have something unpleasant to tell them.

2. Help Them See Where They Need To Change

Most of us are great at telling kids how they need to change, and hammering that point home via lectures or screaming. However, there is a huge communication difference between telling a kid they need to change, and actually getting the kid herself to see the need for change.

None of us responds to “You need to…” statements very well. Adults know this, because they can’t stand when adults or teens use this language, yet many parents use it with their kids all the time.

Instead, help your kid actually see the need for change the same way that anybody else sees the need for change.

Let’s say you want your kid to try harder in math class. To do this, highlight the positives of where your kid currently is, for example praising him on the hard work he is doing in English class. Then, help him identify a desired goal, and work to get him to see the gap that exists between his current behavior and achieving that goal.  In this example, you can get him to acknowledge his goal of going to a great college, and how his lack of effort in math may hinder this. For example you might say, “You want to get into Ohio State; they are pretty competitive, and your math grade will matter. Do you think you could put a similar effort into math, even though I know you don’t like it that well?” He may very well start to see your point, because you have nicely helped him identify his own desire to go to a good school, and how changing his effort in math will bridge the gap between his current reality and his goal. Most people respond better to this than a “you better do better in math or you are grounded!” threat.

3. Use the Language of Observation, Not Judgment

Have you ever been called “stupid?” “Lazy?” When you get called these names, how do you respond to them? You immediately change your ways and listen to the person calling you these names, right? Oh wait…you don’t.

Most of us get defensive and shut down when we are judged. Even if the judgment rings true enough, we rarely respond to the language of judgment. Yet, most of us grew up receiving it and don’t know any other way to criticize someone.

Instead of the language of judgment, I prefer the language of observation. I should give credit to Marshall Rosenberg here, author of Non-Violent Communication, as this concept is an important part of that communication method.

To observe means to stick to the facts of a situation versus labeling someone. Let me give you some examples:

Judgement: You are stupid and lazy and can’t even pass a basic math class!
Observation: Your mom and I are concerned that you are failing math class.

Judgment: You are just out of control and a little criminal!
Observation: I am unhappy that you vandalized that statue.

Judgment: Can’t you do anything right? Are you an idiot?
Observation: This is the third time you have gotten in trouble for talking back to your teacher, and I am getting frustrated.

Sticking to the facts and observing will keep your child’s defenses down and allow you to calmly relate to them. Instead of you accusing them of vague personality flaws (such as “stupidity”), name-calling (“idiot”), or exaggerating (“can’t you do anything right?”), you will be listing actual, observable things they have done that can be identified and discussed to then be corrected.

This may not solve all of your issues with your teen, but most problems tend to be solved by decent and proactive communication. If you improve your communication with your kids, you will find that this improvement will spill over to other areas of your life, since effective communication is so important.

There Are No Bad Kids

bullied boy

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Back when I was a full time teacher, there was often talk in the teacher’s lounge about the “bad kids.” Almost always it was one teacher warning another about a kid to look out for. Of course they would preface it with not prejudging, but the judgment was obvious. And, once a kid got a reputation, it never really left. My first year of teaching, I bought into the rumors and prejudices about kids that I heard from their other teachers.

However, as I grew as a teacher and learned the value of social skills I stopped viewing these kids who acted out as “bad” and instead looked for ways to actually talk to them and relate to them. A lot of the kids who acted out for other teachers actually liked me and gave me some of their best work.

A lot of parents might be frustrated because they think they have bad kids. Maybe their kids are acting out or causing issues at school. However, labeling a child as “bad” has never accomplished anything. If a parent, teacher, or other adult considers a kid “bad” it’s all over in terms of behavior change.

Kids can be challenging. They can be frustrating. But, they can also be helped and changed. In my case, a lot of the so-called bad kids started behaving when I simply reached out to them and listened to them. It’s amazing how young people want to give you their best when they think you actually, gasp, like them!

In addition, the “bad” kids liked my teaching style. I recognized that being “good” isn’t defined as sitting still and learning exactly like everyone else. I tried to engage these kids in ways that would challenge them and get them interested. This meant incorporating things they actually liked (physical activity, humor, etc.) rather than what they didn’t (usually the very concept of school).

So, there are no bad kids. If you’re a parent or teacher or other authority figure, resist the urge to label or write off a child. Instead find ways to relate to and reach out to the kid. You’d be amazed at how far that can go in bringing out the good in just about every young person.

If you know someone who could use to read this article (maybe a fellow parent whose child is struggling at school), please share it.

Three Ways Shyness Creates Problems At School

girl hiding behind book

Image courtesy of stock images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Shyness is a part of life for many children and teens. And while studies on shyness show that it’s not totally detrimental to success in school or later in life, it’s generally recognized that shyer people have a more difficult time due to social anxiety and other drawbacks that come from being more closed in a world that is increasingly open. As a former teacher, I can say for sure that shyness can, in some ways, hinder a child’s success. Here are three ways shyness creates problems at school.

Public Speaking

Although I labelled it public speaking, what I really mean is that virtually every class or activity has a component that involves acting in front of others. It could be giving a speech to classmates, doing a math problem at the board, or shooting basketball foul shots in front of a crowd.

These tasks aren’t always easy for even extroverted children. For kids with extreme shyness these activities in front of their peers can be horrible, anxiety inducing events. And, the lack of poise and confidence can lead to lower grades and less success in these activities.

Social Adjustment

School isn’t just about studying and grades and academic performance. It requires a lot of social adjustment and adaptation. All of this is crucial for the real world too where knowing a skill is valuable, but social skills matter, as well (think business as an example).

A child who is shy has more trouble making friends, interacting with teachers, and functioning in an already high stress environment. And, wanting friends, dates, and good relationships is a deep human need. You might be happy if your kid brings home good grades. But your child likely has more stress and anxiety associated with the lack of a social life.

Bullying

Shyer kids tend to be the victims of bullying more often than outgoing children. It’s likely because shy youth internalize their feelings more. They’re less likely to stand up to the bully or tell anyone else about it. Plus since shy kids are sometimes perceived as “different” they earn the attention of bullies who look for different children to pick on.

This might be the biggest problem for shy kids at school because being bullied can lead to lower grades, self-harm, and other negative health consequences.

A Solution

While these problems might seem bad, if you have a child who is shy that doesn’t mean he or she will experience any of these issues. However, helping your child become more outgoing and come out of his or her shell will provide many social advantages. Our book, The Teen Popularity Handbook: Make Friends, Get Dates, Become Bully-Proof does just that. We offer tips to create a happier, more outgoing and confident child who can avoid the issues that can occur with shy teens and children.

Guys: Just Stop Declaring Your Love

People naturally connect a variety of ways.  All human-to-human connections (friendship and romantic) involve getting to know somebody. This can happen in person and even over the Internet.

As a teacher, students talk to me a lot about their lives, including their romantic lives. At the end of a school year (and other times even), guys think it is the right time to send girls long messages declaring the great love they have felt for them the entire year. Either that or they awkwardly work up the courage to do it in person.

Even if they don’t use the “love” word, guys will message some girl about how perfect and beautiful she is, how they have liked her from afar all year, and so forth.

I have yet to see this tactic work. Let me explain why this is a bad idea for four reasons.

It is Artificial

Attraction has to happen naturally. People start dating based on organic attraction and rapport building. Watching a girl from afar and suddenly dumping an emotional essay onto her isn’t even close to how attraction actually works. The guys that get a lot of dates and relationships don’t do things that way.

It Doesn’t Understand The Way Women Fall In Love

Love declarations can be awkward for girls because they fall in love differently. Guys can fall in love from afar. Being highly visual, guys base a lot of interest on physical attraction. Because of the “Halo Effect” (science shows when someone is attractive we assume they have other good qualities), guys see a pretty girl and just assume she has the qualities he wants in a girl. So, in his mind, he has practically entered a relationship with a pretty girl before he has even said “hello.”

Girls don’t work that way. They tend to base attraction more on a guy’s personality. So, they have to know a guy better before they are truly attracted. When a guy she barely knows suddenly declares his crazy love for her, she is shocked (“How can he love me and say I’m perfect…he doesn’t even know me??”).

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It Shows Insecurity

While a guy may think he is showing confidence by sending his lengthy love declaration, women perceive it as insecurity. If a guy has seen a woman hundreds of times at school, or interacted with her as a friend, then why did he wait so flipping long to express his romantic interest? A confident guy wouldn’t have waited forever to make that move. Even if a guy tells her face-to-face, the same principle applies. First, he is likely very nervous when he is saying it, which shows insecurity. Second, even if he developed the guts to finally say his piece, why is he waiting until the last minute?

It Isn’t Smooth

Women like guys that have some charm . A socially skilled guy isn’t going to send a girl a long text declaring how perfect she is and how he loved her from afar or whatever else he dumps on her. He’ll be funny, charming, and mysterious. He’ll make a girl want more of him. A long letter that leaves no mystery just isn’t very fun and exciting. Dating is a game. Smart guys know how to play it.

So, to all the guys reading this, be more smooth and charming. Just stop suddenly declaring your love to random women or even those you have been friends with for a while. Instead, take the relationship in a romantic direction and let it happen naturally…then you can declare your love.