Rumor and gossip strategies for adolescents

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Rumor and gossip strategies for adolescents

We know that rumors and gossip, unfortunately, are very, very common among adolescence. Parents often feel very stuck about what advice to give their kids in these situations. The interesting thing is that our instincts and our kids instincts in these situations are usually wrong. The instinct is that you want to go and try to defend yourself or disprove the rumor or maybe you want to go and confront the person who is spreading this rumor. The reality is that if you confront that person who is spreading the rumor, you are just going to spread more gossip. That is good gossip. You are confronting the person. The other thing, if you deny the rumor, you end up looking more guilty. What you want to do is either act amazed that anyone would either care or believe this rumor. It doesn't even matter if it's true. If it is true, you act amazed that anyone would care. If it's not true, you act amazed that anyone would believe it. You try to act amazed when people talk about it, but you are also going to be proactive. You are going to get that rumor out there about yourself. What you do is you go up to your good friend at lunchtime when there could be other people around that could be listening. You say, "Can you believe that this rumor is going around?" And you kind of say what the rumor is. Then you say, "I can't believe anyone cares about that," or "I can't believe anyone cares about that. That's so lame. Find something else to talk about." Make sure there are other people around that can hear this. That really takes all of the power out of the rumor.

See Liz Laugeson, PsyD's video on Rumor and gossip strategies for adolescents...


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Liz Laugeson, PsyD

Psychologist & Author

Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson is a licensed clinical psychologist and an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.  Dr. Laugeson is the Director of The Help Group – UCLA Autism Research Alliance, which is a collaborative research initiative between The Help Group and the UCLA Semel Institute, dedicated to developing and expanding applied clinical research in the treatment of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders.  She is also the Director of the UCLA PEERS Clinic, which is an outpatient hospital-based clinic providing parent-assisted social skills training for adolescents and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other social impairments. 

Dr. Laugeson has been a principal investigator and collaborator on a number of studies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigating social skills training for youth with developmental disabilities from preschool to early adulthood and is the co-developer of an evidence-based social skills intervention for teens and young adults known as PEERS. She was the two-time recipient of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the NIH from 2004-2007, recipient of the Semel Scholar Award for Junior Faculty Career Development in 2008, and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Pepperdine University in 2010. Dr. Laugeson has presented her research at international conferences throughout the world including the U.S., Canada, England, Italy, and Australia. Her work has been featured on national and international media outlets such as People Magazine, USA Today, the LA Times, New York Times, Washington Post, CBS, NBC, and Channel 4 in the United Kingdom.

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