If you are concerned about your boy “fitting-in” at school, look no further than your own front door. Does your son feel comfortable and at-place within the structure of your family? Is he free to express his voice and opinions? Is he feeling pressured to mold himself toward a vision that isn’t his? Are you taking responsible for your son’s relationship with the world around him by promoting healthy values, such as service?
These are the tough questions, but the important ones. It is time to get honest with yourself, your family, and your son, because the next few years are crucial to his growth, development, and happiness, and you have the tools to cultivate a healthy “sense of belonging” for your son. Here are 3 things you can do to level-up your parenting.
Create a positive self-image
Without confidence, a sense of place in this world is near impossible to achieve. If self-esteem is low, those powerful negative emotions can dominate a developing person, and even spiral out of control. If you sense that your child is having a negative self-image (self-depreciating words, disinterest in social or public events, etc) then it is your opportunity to build him up again. Take a close look at your home environment. Here are a few common causes of negative self-image:
- Feeling inadequate next to a thriving sibling, causing feelings of dejection and low self-worth. Is one of your children “glorified” more than the others? Does your child feel overshadowed?
- May feel pressured to be who he is not. Is it possible you are forcing certain skills or attributes on him that he may not wish to encompass?
- Hearing reinforcement of his own negative thoughts. Words are powerful, are you and those around you using them wisely?
Become more conscious and aware of your environment and how your child is affected. Be certain that his interests and abilities are being acknowledged and encouraged. Even if it does not align with what you particularly enjoy. Tell him consistently the things you appreciate about him, both small and large. Start listening to what others are saying to him, and have zero-tolerance for negative or insulting talk.
We tend to promote talents and skills as more important and valuable in boys first and not concentrate on them belonging in our families and communities. I.e.: sports teams and athletics. It’s upside and backwards to healthy development. Boys need to feel the sense of belonging first in order to feel their sense of value and then the skills and talents can be cultivated.
ENGAGE HIM IN HOUSEHOLD ACTIVITIES
Chores are one of the most common complaints for children, but there is a reason they have been enforced by parents for ages and generations, across all cultures and lifestyles. What can be more be belonging, than working together toward a common goal, to build and maintain a healthy and clean living environment? Even if your son resists the tasks given to him, he will grow to appreciate it, and it will give him a sense of purpose and service.
“Kids feel competent when they do their chores. Whether they’re making their bed or they’re sweeping the floor, helping out around the house gives them a sense of accomplishment.
Doing chores also helps kids feel like they’re part of the team. Pitching in and helping family members is good for them and it encourages them to be good citizens.
Research from a well-known 75-year Harvard study examined what psychosocial variables and biological processes from earlier in life predict health and well-being later in life. Researchers found that children who are given chores became more independent adults.” – https://www.verywellfamily.com/the-importance-of-chores-for-kids-1095018
PROMOTE SERVICE TO OTHERS AND COMMUNITY
Your son’s school is just one part of his overall community experience. In addition to your home, the town or city you live in can be a source of belonging for your growing boy. Encourage involvement in activities that serve others, such as volunteering. As he witnesses his own efforts improving the world around him, he will gain confidence while building strong connections and friendships. This foundation will serve him as he navigates his school environment and finds positive influences to surround himself with.
“Teens who belong to a positive group and share a sense of belonging with group members are able to resist negative peer pressure from outside sources than are those who are marginalized. These teens often possess a strong sense of self, empowered by others of like mind and interests.” https://www.livestrong.com/article/94821-teenage-son-fit-socially/
You can encourage your son to feel more at home in the world he lives in, by starting in the home itself. Your son need not feel isolated or alone, as long as he has a healthy self-image, household responsibility, and a strong sense of purpose.
Thank you for visiting my site. Let’s connect. I’d love to hear your story. Want more? Check out my latest book. Busting the Boys Will Be Boys Myth: A Guide to Raising Conscious and Confident Men in Today’s World