Helping Children Find Their Identity

Most every child struggles at one point or another with how to fit in. As social groups form in school, there are often several revered groups that kids want to be a part of. If a child tries to change her personality in order to fit in, she may struggle with her identity. A child may lose confidence and self-esteem if they are rejected by some peers. Helping a child navigate this social hierarchy can be tough, but there are ways to give children the confidence they need to believe in themselves and make their own way.

  • Talking to a child about how to treat others is a great way to work on being liked by others. Explaining that people who show respect and kindness usually receive it in return can give an alternative to simply being liked for being good at sports or fitting in.
  • If a child’s personality is changing for the worse because of hanging out with new friends, a parent can have a calm conversation about why the changes have been happening. Naming with the child the changes and noticing together when it started can help them make the connection. Have an honest talk about behavioral expectations.
  • If a child is not good at picking up on social cues, a parent can take time to talk about social interactions with a child. Explain what appropriate responses are and how to handle situations with friends.
  • A parent can help a child find an activity where they can meet people similar to them. If they have a flare for the dramatics, sign them up for a local theater play. If they like to do art projects, find a local 4H club. Finding out that there are more people to be friends with than just at school can give them more room to create their own identity.
  • Find books and movies that the child can relate to and use them as a tool to discuss the  consequences and benefits of conforming.
  • Always provide positive feedback to your child whenever possible. Having encouragement and knowing they are loved by family can give children the self-confidence they need to make a new friend.

Giving kids the confidence to be who they are when they are young helps builds success in the future.


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Note: This information should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of a mental health condition. Call 612-871-1454 to learn more about Washburn Center’s mental health services for children.

Sources: www.npr.org and www.kidshealth.org