Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Building Positive Identity in Children and Youth

Positive Identity is one of the 8 categories of strengths (Developmental Assets) that all children need to succeed. The Search Institute defines positive identity as “young people need to believe in their own self-worth and to feel that they have control over the things that happen to them.”

The characteristics listed under positive identity are:
1. Personal power. Young person feels he or she has control over “things that happen to me.”
2. Self-esteem. Young person reports having a high self-esteem.
3. Sense of purpose. Young person reports that “my life has a purpose.”
4. Positive view of personal future. Young person is optimistic about her or his personal future.

Researching positive identity today, I stumbled upon an article titled, “Helping Your Child Develop Self-Esteem” by the Child Development Institute.

It talked about the characteristics of children with high vs. low self-esteem. It mentioned strategies to build a child’s self-esteem, including my favorite method of generously giving specific praise when praise is due. I also liked how they connected the dots between healthy decision-making and high self-esteem.

They close the article with 10 additional steps you can take to help a child develop a positive self-image. Five of the ideas are on my personal and professional radar lists this month:
1. Encourage your children to develop hobbies and interests which give them pleasure and which they can pursue independently.
2. Let children settle their own disputes between siblings and friends alike.
3. Help your children develop "tease tolerance"
4. Help children learn to focus on their strengths by pointing out to them all the things they can do.
5. Laugh with your children and encourage them to laugh at themselves.

If you want to learn more about building developmental assets visit www.search-institute.org, where you can learn more about the research behind assets and discover many other resources to promot your journey to nurture healthy youth.

How are YOU building positive identity in your children and youth? Leave us a comment with your stories, or email us at ann(at)theassetedge(dot)net.