Belonging and identification : Challenges and Negotiations in Refugee Children's Everyday life in Norway

​Settlement is a highly symbolic period of time for migrants who are granted the status of refugees and welcomed into their host society. Beyond what settlement represents for a state – its welfare system and its local communities that orchestrate the integration process for refugees – individuals are in the process of experiencing settlement. This chapter highlights the importance of identification in refugee children’s life experience of settlement and sense of belonging. It shows that children’s individual and collective identification, through their interactions with others, are key elements in achieving a positive experience of belonging. From a young age, children have insights into complex issues of both inclusion and exclusion as well as experiencing both similarities and differences. Children’s experiences of belonging during the process of settlement are negotiated at multiple levels in their everyday life. Drawing on qualitative research conducted with refugee children in Norway, the findings show that children are active in exploring strategies to belong. However, the feeling of belonging to Norwegian society requires time and a fair number of good opportunities. Providing refugee children with opportunities that give them new experiences and positive social interactions during the process of settlement can help them figure out how best to negotiate the challenges they could encounter on their journeys in their new country.