Cultural identity and sense of belonging is important to the social, emotional, cognitive well being of children.
When children have a strong cultural identity gives children a sense of belonging and self-esteem, positioning them for strong relationships, mental health and learning.
Feeling of belonging is an important developmental asset and has been identified as a protective factor for children. Every child needs to feel that they belong somewhere.
On My Way, a guide to support middle years development highlights the role of culture in influencing the development of middle years children. Children in the middle years begin to develop a sense of belonging and connectedness with their parents / caregivers, families, friends and communities. According to the guide, child development is experienced in part through culture and identity. The development of positive identities is supported through a child’s connection to their culture, ethnicity, faith, or spirituality.
In order for children to develop a sense of identity and belonging, it is important for them to connect with others with shared social identities. This is especially important for some groups that may experience barriers to identify formation (e.g., LGBTQ2S, Deaf culture, racialized and/or cultural communities).
The guide also focuses on culture within Indigenous population. One of the most important indicators of Indigenous Well being, according to the resource, is belonging within families and communities. Preserving the culture and identity of Indigenous children is crucial to their well being; providing them with balance and healthy relationships. Connection to language is instrumental to giving Indigenous children a strong sense of who they are.
For more information on the importance of Culture and Belonging in the development of Children, check out these resources:
Kids Matter, a coalition out of Australia, produced this resource on Why Culture Matters for Children s Development and Well being.