Young people need meaningful, valuable roles at home, at school, and in the community. They also need to feel safe. When they feel safe and valued, they are more likely to bond with others and build healthy relationships. They then become more valuable because they want to contribute.
Empowerment – the sense that you can make a difference and that you have a valued place or role – starts at home and begins slowly. Ask yourself: “What makes your child feel valued? What unique skills and talents does your child have to offer? What meaningful, age-appropriate roles does your child have in your family?”
Even if you don’t know the answers to all of these questions, begin today with one thing you do know about empowerment. Start small. You can help your child feel more valued and valuable today.
The more a young person is valued and feels valuable, the more likely he or she is to grow up healthy. Empower your child by providing choices. When kids were asked about empowerment, these were a few responses: “Applaud my efforts and successes; Help me solve problems and change things for the better; and “Let me take care of things when I think I can.”
4 Key Areas of Empowerment
Search Institute researchers have identified four empowerment assets that are crucial for helping young people grow up healthy. Check the areas of strength in your child’s life:
❑ Community values youth—Your child perceives that adults in the community value youth.
❑ Youth as resources—Your child is given useful roles in the community.
❑ Service to others—Your child serves in the community one hour or more per week.
❑ Safety—Your child feels safe at home, at school, and in the neighborhood.
Tips that make empowering your child easier:
- Have regular family meetings to plan, solve problems, and encourage each other.
- Get involved with your child’s school and in the community.
- Think of yourself as your child’s empowerment coach.
- Advocate that your community develop meaningful opportunities for young people.
Happy holidays to you all! May the gifts you give your children last a lifetime!
-Dr. Paula Sissel,