Why Social Belonging Matters to Teens: How Parents Can Offer Guidance


Depending on the student and situation, going to school can bring joy, anxiety, stress or a combination of all three. Academics and social connections are the key components of attending school, so when a child feels stressed in one or both areas, it can affect their overall mental state and outlook on life.

As a parent, it’s hard to watch your teen struggle. It’s even harder when you know you can’t fix the problem for them. If academics are the issue, you can find a tutor, get help from the school, and help your child develop good studying habits, which can help them turn things around. But if your teen has trouble making friends, is getting bullied, or is experiencing other social issues, a parent’s hands may feel more tied.

Helping your child make positive social connections may not be as cut and dry as helping them academically; however, there are things that parents can do to provide their teens with support, encouragement, and confidence, which can help them with their relationships in school.

  • Encourage Open Dialogue: Make it a point to regularly check in with your teen and foster an environment where your he or she feels comfortable sharing about their social experiences, concerns, and feelings without judgment.
  • Be Non-Intrusive but Available: Give your teen space to forge their own social paths, but make it known that you’re available for support and guidance when needed.
  • Encourage Extracurriculars: Support your teen in joining clubs, sports, or other extracurricular activities where they can meet individuals with similar interests.
  • Promote Healthy Relationships: Discuss the hallmarks of good friendships and romantic relationships, stressing the importance of respect, boundaries, and communication.
  • Address Peer Pressure: Teach your teen strategies for dealing with peer pressure, particularly in scenarios involving drugs, alcohol, or other risky behaviors.
  • Liaise with School: If you suspect that your teen is facing social challenges like bullying or exclusion, support your child and dialogue together with them and school officials to understand the situation better and explore solutions.
  • Monitor Emotional Health: Keep an eye out for signs of social anxiety, depression, or other emotional issues that may require professional help.

Being proactive in your adolescent’s social life without being intrusive can be a delicate balancing act, but your support and guidance can be crucial during this formative period.  Your support is essential as they learn to navigate more complex social scenarios while in school and out.

For more ways to help your teen make positive social connections, contact info@calchildpsych.com.

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