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Is Your Teen a Social Chameleon?

Libby is well-liked by her classmates. She seems to fit in with everyone. No matter who she is with, she makes them feel liked, listened to, and befriended. They feel comfortable around her. Libby’s secret to success is her ability to blend. She easily adopts the norms of those around her. Whether it’s a pattern of speech, a way of thinking, the way she carries herself, or other small details, she adjusts to fit with whomever she is around. Seeing her as a like-minded peer and someone they can trust, she’s quickly adopted as a friend in any crowd.

Lisa stands in stark contrast to Libby. It doesn’t matter who she hangs with, Lisa’s unique personality shines through. She has a set way of doing things and sticks to it. Her patterns are definitely her own. Yet, she is also well-liked. Her peers know they could count on her to be honest and reliable. With Lisa, you get what you see. She’s confident in who she is and never changes to meet the expectations of different crowds. Lisa is Lisa – no one else.

Fitting in vs Standing Out

Libby is a chameleon. Lisa is a zebra.

Able to blend in any environment, Libby might make a good leader or politician. Her ability to relate well to many different types of people can be advantageous in many ways.

True to her stripes in any circumstance, Lisa also enjoys advantages. She’s sure of who she is and what she wants. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind.

Both of these girls can use their personalities to achieve success, but one of them might be more likely to use drugs. If peer pressure is the influencing factor, guess who’s more likely to follow suit?

When it comes to drug use, Libby’s natural tendency to follow the crowd could be her downfall. Seen as just another way to fit in, substance abuse might become a habit. Lisa, on the other hand, is more likely to stand her ground (if she has made the decision not to use drugs). She is less likely to modify her behavior out of fear of what others think of her. She never changes her stripes.

Which Will Your Teen Be?

Are you in a position to influence a teen, or shape a young child into the type of animal they will be? The answer is a resounding yes!

Some of us are more likely to be chameleons; some of us are natural zebras. If your teen’s the blending type, it’s especially important to encourage them to be true to who they are. If they encounter bad influences (and we know they will), they need to know they don’t have to change for those around them. Teach them their value as an individual. Point out the advantages of their unique personality and abilities. Let them know they don’t always have to blend. With this strong foundation in place, your teen will be less likely to succumb to unhealthy peer pressure.