Help young people bring out their best
The way people feel about themselves can fluctuate with circumstances. Depending on what’s happening, you may feel confident or unsure, optimistic or pessimistic, in control or not in control. What’s important is what a person’s identity is like most of the time. People who have a strong, positive sense of self maintain these qualities even when difficulties arise. They continue to be hopeful and optimistic, and believe they can make a difference
HERE ARE THE FACTS
Research shows the more young people have a sense of power, purpose, worth, and promise, the more likely they are to grow up healthy. Search Institute has identified four assets in the Positive Identity category that are crucial for helping young people: Personal Power, Self-Esteem, Sense of Purpose, and Positive View of Personal Future.
TIPS FOR BUILDING THESE ASSETS
Although identity is partially determined by genetics, adults can bring out the best in young people. The way you interact with young people helps them to feel loved or unloved, liked or disliked. Further, the ways you respond to successes, mistakes, actions, and words helps build a sense of either a positive or negative identity. Begin by supporting young people and showing them you care. A young person who feels loved, supported, and nurtured is more likely to feel good about herself or himself. It’s also important to help young people feel empowered by allowing them to experience self-reliance, responsibility, and opportunities to make meaningful contributions. Appreciate each young person for who he or she is.
A positive identity forms the foundation that helps young people feel secure in who they are. Young people develop a positive identity when you:
- Love and support them unconditionally;
- Live a life filed with purpose, meaning and optimism; and
- Help them find meaning and purpose for their own lives.
HOW CAN YOU HELP YOUTH HAVE A POSITIVE IDENTITY?
- In your home and family: Have each family member answer these questions: What three things do you like about yourself? Why? Discuss the answers and different ways for each of you to help build one another’s self-esteem.
- In your neighborhood and community: Encourage local media to celebrate young people’s successes in all kinds of activities—not just sports. When you see, hear, or read good things about a young person you know, write a note of congratulations to him or her.
- In your school or youth program: Have young people create a life-planning portfolio that covers their experiences from the end of one school year to the beginning of the next school year, and include goals, dreams, and hopes. They can be an important tool for the student—and for teachers and program staff—to keep track of accomplishments and challenges.
Want to know more about Search Institute’s other seven asset categories or the 40 Developmental Assets and ideas for helping young people build them? Visit www.ecabnetwork.org
Developmental Assets® are positive factors within young people, families, communities, schools, and other settings that research has found to be important in promoting the healthy development of young people. Adapted from Instant Assets: 52 Short and Simple E-Mails for Sharing the Asset Message. Copyright © 2007 by Search Institute®, 877-240-7251; www.search-institute.org. This message may be reproduced for educational, noncommercial uses only (with this copyright line). All rights reserved.