The Importance of Belonging

In society we often hear negative comments or generalizations about the youth in our communities. You may have heard or experienced some yourself – like youth are “troublemakers“, “ungrateful” or “lazy“.

With smart technology, advances in society and changes to our culture there is no denying that youth today are raised in a vastly different context than generations before.

When noticing behavioral issues in youth we tend to place the blame on cell phones and social media. However, what if I suggested that the core concern is actually quite simple – a lack of belonging.

Why is belonging important?

Healthy belonging and attachment is foundational to the developing brain – specifically the pre-frontal cortex. This part of the brain is central to your moral, emotional and social behavior.

Scholars argue that – as a child – when your brains senses someone is rejecting you, you will see that person as the opposite of you and therefore an enemy.

When this happens you are likely to use the four R’s.

For example, if you are a child or young adult and someone is rejecting you, you’d be likely to…

  • go against what is asked of you in school or at home
  • rebel from the direction or guiding of your caregivers; and
  • resent those who are not like you

If belonging is so critical, what can be done to reinforce it?

There are simple steps you can take to foster belonging among today’s youth. Some include:

  • Greeting with a smile
  • Showing acts of kindness
  • Spending quality time together
  • Addressing and validating their concerns when they don’t feel accepted; and
  • Modelling positive communication

Take a moment today to find ways you can engage with youth in your community! Find ways that will make them feel accepted, respected, valued and most of all – that they belong.

We can’t forget that youth are our future…

This post was based on the article “Understanding the Circle of Courage” by Kym Brown. Check it out for more information regarding the importance of belonging in today’s youth.

For more information on this topic, check out these videos


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