Sociometric Status and Your Teen

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Having strong social connections is important to a person's physical and emotional well-being. In fact, research shows that kids who have a strong sociometric status tend to be healthier and have better interpersonal skills.

Overall, your teen's sociometric status is an indicator of how they are viewed by their peers. Researchers use sociometric statuses to better understand the behaviors and outcomes of kids who have different types of peer relationships. Sociometric status is also known as peer status.

The results of your teen's sociometric statuses can affect their future in terms of social functioning in both friendships and relationships. Sociometric status may also have a bearing on your teen views themselves.

How Sociometric Status Is Measured

Sociometric statuses are determined in a variety of ways by different researchers. Most methods involve asking kids what they think of the other children in their class. For instance, kids may be asked to nominate three kids that they like the most and three kids they like the least. Sometimes kids may even be asked to rank every child in the class in terms of likability.

Some researchers prefer to directly observe kids' interactions instead of asking them for their opinions while other researchers ask teachers instead of the children. Overall, many researchers use a five-category system to measure sociometric statuses. These categories include:

It's important to note that not all researchers agree with these categories though. And, there is some debate about the usefulness of sociometric categories in general. But regardless, most researchers agree that helping your kids develop social skills and make friends may benefit them in the long run, especially with regard to their health.

Status and Health

Most teens spend the bulk of their time at school. Consequently, researchers have found that the interactions that they have with their peers has significant implications. For instance, researchers have discovered that a teen's status at school can have significant and long-term effects on their health, as well as increase their healthcare expenses.

One study found that teens with one friend or fewer had significantly higher healthcare costs than teens with eight friends or more. Additionally, the difference in expenses was $4,400 over the course of five years.

Likewise, another study found that 11- to 15-year-olds who had a high peer status were twice as likely to report feeling healthy with few healthcare issues.

Conversely, teens with low sociometric status experienced a two and a half fold increase in musculoskeletal pain. Poor social status can even increase the likelihood of depression and anxiety among teenagers, especially if they feel like they are missing out. And the impact of sociometric status on teen health is not limited to adolescence.

According to one study that looked at tweens between the ages of 8 and 12 years of age, and later when they were between 45 and 52 years old, noted that teens benefitted from a high sociometric status. What they found was that tweens with higher peer status in school reported better health as adults than tweens with lower peer status.

Status and Interpersonal Skills

When teens are accepted by their peer group, it may be a good thing for their interpersonal skills into adulthood. However, don't stress out too much if they have low sociometric status during the teen years.

Negative outcomes don't necessarily mean that your teen will automatically have trouble developing social skills. What seems to matter most is how your teen feels about their own social success.

In fact, teens who are comfortable with where they fit in socially seem to do better at developing positive interpersonal skills.

The reason for this may be that your teen's self-efficacy, or expectations about how they will be treated, shapes emotional and behavioral outcomes. While sociometric status matters for social functioning in teens, if your teen puts little importance on peer acceptance, they may be better at adjusting in different social situations. They also may have more established relationships than teens who place a high importance on social acceptance.

A Word From Verywell

There's a balancing act between raising a teen to be resilient socially and to also have self-acceptance. While it's important to help your teen develop social connections, if you teach your teen to put less importance on what others think, you will equip them with the tools to be successful socially well into adulthood. Additionally, strong social skills also can be a deterrent for bullying as well as build self-esteem.

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