Belonging vs Fitting In – this is a problem we all face as human beings as we try to fill the need of belonging that is innate within us. We often substitute authentic belonging with artificial and performance- based fitting in.
Karen Pace from the Michigan State Extension office wrote a helpful article on helping children to have a sense of belonging rather than just fitting in. Here is an excerpt:
“Too many adolescents feel pressured to fit in ways that are not healthy to their overall identities around gender, physical appearance, color of skin, sexuality and other aspects of themselves. The pressure to fit in is also linked to issues of bullying. Feeling pressured to fit in at all costs can lead youth (and adults) to participate in unhealthy relationships – or go along with the crowd in the face of hurtful, mean-spirited behaviors.
“Parents, families and adults in kids’ lives have important roles to play in helping kids understand the difference between fitting in and belonging. One way to do this is to foster empathy and understanding with the young people in our lives. Let kids know that you are there for them and that you understand how hard the pressure to fit in can be. Share stories about how you struggled as a kid (and perhaps even as an adult) so that young people don’t feel alone and isolated. Help them learn to find the courage to be seen, to be who they are and to seek out other youth and adults that accept them for who they are. Work to create families, schools and youth groups that are grounded in safety, love, connection and belonging.”
Access the full article here.
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