Recently, a study found that nearly 40 percent of parents in Britain would prefer their child be popular than be clever. And a new study may have pinpointed the be exact characteristic that help children quickly gain popularity.
That characteristic? The ability to anticipate and predict how others will act or react. The study found that "preschoolers and school-age children who are good at identifying what others want, think, and feel are more popular in school than their peers who aren't as socially adept."
The research, which appears in the journal Child Development, examined 20 previous studies that analyzed popularity and complex social situations (or theory of mind). The data included information from 2,096 children, between the ages of 2- and 10-years-old, across multiple continents.
Across the board, a connection was found that tied a child's popularity with their ability to determine someone else's mental perspective, which is an important trait for making, maintaining, and keeping friends later in life.
What's also interesting is that the link was found to be a stronger train in girls than in boys. A reason might be that girls' interactions often contain higher levels of intimacy, which may help them be more aware of (and understand) others' thoughts and feelings.
But being popular is certainly not everything, and whether or not you're worried about your child's popularity, this study reinforces the importance of teaching your child to be sensitive to others.
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She's a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn
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