We all want to belong and as parents we’re often worried about whether our children are happy, have friends and fit in. Some children seem more adept at being accepted than others, but there are plenty of practical things you can do to help if your child isn’t one of them.
All children need to feel that their world is a safe place where people care about them, their needs for support, respect and friendship are met and they are able to get help to work out any problems. When these needs are met children develop a sense of belonging.
A sense of belonging has been shown to improve children’s ability to learn and increase their skills in developing relationships. When children feel included, they are able to develop a sense of pride in who they are, which helps build positive self esteem. It also helps them to appreciate and value differences in those around them.
There are many practical ways you can help your child to feel safe and secure, including:
- listening to your child, asking them about their day and talking through any concerns they may have
- taking time to play with your kids without distractions – show them that you value spending time with them
- giving plenty of encouragement that values effort over success (eg “Sanjay, you worked really hard on building that castle”).
You may be interested in reading further about the importance of belonging.