Before there was terminology like "Alpha" and "Beta," there were simply leaders and followers. You have probably heard labels like this thrown around in workplace settings and in self-help books. The Alphas are the bosses; strong, good-looking, and virile. Betas are considered second-fiddles; the followers. But, psychologists now believe that western society's obsession with raising alpha children is leading to a future of adults who are not well-rounded and don't know how to deal with failure. There may be some early signs your child will be a Beta, and you know what? That's totally OK.
According to the Australian website Kidspot, parents who are determined to raise alpha children have created a generation of egos competing for attention. Kids today are raised to feel that they must be at the top. But, how does any system run without a form of hierarchy? Kids are not being taught to work together, but to be the best and overshadow others. Psychologist Virginia Williams from the University of Wollongong told Kidspot that many alpha kids end up with social problems because they are bossy. If they believe and act as though they are never wrong, other kids won’t be able to relate to them.
It's important for there to be leaders and followers, and for everyone to work together. If your kid isn't an alpha, that's OK. Here are some signs your child will grow up to be a totally awesome beta.
1. They're Introverted
If your child is an introvert, it doesn't necessarily mean that they have social anxiety or don't like people. For most kids, being an introvert means that they are more interested in listening and learning, rather than being the center of attention. While the Alphas are making noise, the Betas are making things happen in the world. In an essay for Harvard Magazine, English professor Helen Vendler wrote, that Betas, " value introspection above extroversion, insight above rote learning. Such unusual students may be, in the long run, the graduates of whom we will be most proud."
2. They're Peacemakers
There will always be kids who start trouble, and then there are those who want everyone to get along. If your child is a natural-born peacemaker, there's a good chance they will grow up to be beta adults. According to developmental psychologist Dr. Gordon Neufeld of the website Parent Map, an alpha child may use weakness or vulnerability to exploit and establish dominance over others. This leaves the peacemakers, the beta kids, to be the empathetic ones. Betas grow to be caretakers and put the needs of others first, which sounds like the making of a pretty great spouse and parent.
3. They're Wallflowers
Does your kid seem to fly under the radar? Does their teacher forget their name? Beta kids aren't usually the troublemakers or the class clowns – the ones who the teachers get to know right away. This may seem like a disadvantage, but it doesn't have to be. Not every person is meant to be the leader, nor does everyone aspire to be one. Leaders motivate, but followers get the job done. "I’m not a leader. I’m a follower," Joyce Wang, a Senior Software Engineer at Google wrote in an article for LinkedIn. "But I’m a very, very good follower...there's some serious skill in being a good wingman."
4. They Don't Mind Being "Second-Fiddle"
Not everyone has the emotional strength to be the top banana. They work well without the stress and responsibility of being in charge, but sit back, watch and learn. They have the skills to take over if necessary. "A good follower can step up and be the leader that a team needs," Wang wrote. "A good follower can also step back down without a bruised ego."