5 Reasons Your Teen Needs a Strong Sense of Belonging

Teenagers need to know where they fit in.
Andersen Ross/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Everyone needs to feel like they belong to something. And that can be especially true when teenagers are just discovering who they are. 

A teen who feels like she fits in somewhere--even if it's among the misfits--will feel as though she matters. Here are five good reasons your teen needs a strong sense of belonging:

1. Good Habits Can be Transferred

Want your teen to pay more attention to their homework or to develop their talent in dance?

Enroll him into a study or dance group with like-minded peers.

Want your teen to take pride in his bedroom? Clean your house and do chores together as a family. Be a good role model by taking care of the things you own.

2. A Peer Group is Vital to Identity Formation

Belonging to a peer group and a family helps teens work on their identity and individuality. When your teen feels like she 'fits in' with a group that promotes her likes and social values, her ideas become reinforced.convictions. 

It's important to make sure your teen is hanging out with healthy friends. Spending time with the wrong crowd can have a negative impact on your teen's identity.

3. A Sense of Belonging Bolsters Self-Confidence

A teen who feels like she knows her place in the world will feel confident enough to try new things. A positive self-image is vital to your teen's future success in terms of college, getting a job, and living independently.

4. A Sense of Belonging Staves Off Loneliness

A teen who feels like she fits in with her friends in high school is more likely to find a peer group in college. Similarly, a teen who feels a strong sense of belonging to the family, is likely to establish healthy relationships with others. 

Being alone doesn't mean you feel lonely as many people without a strong sense of belonging can feel lonely in a crowded room.

And in this same sense, a sense of belonging can help teens avoid depression.

5. Fitting In Somewhere Helps a Teen Establish Social Skills

Close relationships can be vital to helping a teen practice social skills. Her close friends and family should be willing to show her when they're upset with her behavior and be honest enough to correct her when she's wrong.

In addition, people who have healthy relationships with your teen should also cheer her on, encourage her efforts, and celebrate her accomplishments. A teen who feels a sense of belonging will feel emotionally supported and she'll be able to sharpen her social skills with positive interactions.

How to Help a Teen Feel Like She Belongs

It's normal for teens to feel as though they don't fit in sometimes. But some teens struggle to fit in more than others.

If your teen doesn't seem to fit in, don't despair. She doesn't necessarily have to fit in on the soccer team or fit in with the other kids in band.

She may be able to gain a sense of belonging in other ways. Feeling as though she belongs to a church group, or feeling like she belongs to a group who is working together to support a cause can be helpful. 

Just make sure she has some healthy social connections somewhere.

And remind her that everyone feels as though they don't belong sometimes. 

Continue Reading