8 tips for helping teens feel a deep sense of love and belonging

We all want our kids to feel loved.

As middle- and high-schoolers grow into adulthood, they experience the myriad joys and disappointments life throws their way. A strong sense of belonging, and of being loved, will support and comfort your teen through the inevitable successes and hardships they’ll experience.

But how can we, as parents, teachers, counselors and caregivers, instill an unshakeable feeling of belonging and of being loved?

Here are 8 practical tips aim to help tweens and teens develop essential social-emotional skills related to love, belonging, and self-awareness during their formative years:

Teach teens to name their emotions. Tools like The Feelings Wheel help kids to express how they feel.

Help teens recognize and make a list of their strengths: what they can do, what they’re good at, and what they enjoy—without comparing themselves to others.

Give them responsibilities that directly benefit your household or classroom. Involve them in age-appropriate, useful tasks to help them feel needed and valued, capable and secure.

Help teens set achievable goals and celebrate their small wins along the way. Encourage to them work toward them with small, realistic steps. Cheer on their efforts, not their results.

Involve teens in decision-making. Give your teen a chance to weigh in on decisions at home or in the classroom and involve them in choices that affect the entire group.


Set Goals, Build Community!

A dozen (11 + 1 bonus!) social-emotional learning activities for Grades 5-10

  • Definitions of key emotions and how they might appear in the student’s life.
  • How learning to manage emotions can help a student become a better friend, athlete, performer, or get better grades
  • Healthy ways to learn from and release difficult feelings
  • How to cultivate the kinds of feelings a student wants to have more often
  • Self-reflective ELA and arts-based activity to manage emotions and instill positive self-regard and self-assurance.

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Help teens learn to cope with disappointment. Letdowns are inevitable. When things go wrong, kids need to know they are still safe, and they’re going to be OK. Stress-relievers include physical activities, calming activities, and breathing techniques.

Reframe mistakes. No only is it normal to make mistakes, it’s necessary in order to learn. When a mistake happens, a teen has an opportunity to be creative and find another way of doing something, and they are more likely to remember the better way in the future.

Encourage healthy friendships. Discuss peer pressure. Help teens think about the kind of friend they choose to be, and the kind of friend they wish to attract. This will help them recognize potential new friends and let go of unhealthy or unsupportive acquaintances.

By implementing these strategies, teens can practice and develop an unshakeable sense of belonging and love. And, these tips bring adults and kids closer together, too!

Thank you for reading!

I’d love to hear your thoughts about social-emotional learning (SEL). Please reach out with your stories, advice, and ideas. We’re your partners in SEL education.

Serving the well-being of kids, their parents, and educators,

Rayne Lacko
Author of Dream Up Now: The Teen Journal for Creative Self-Discovery (FreeSpirit Publications)
A Song for the Road, a YA novel (SparkPress)