Popular belief holds that youth in this country are spoiled, entitled and overindulged. However, one thing remains true and that is kids in the U.S. need to be empowered. The evidence lies around every corner in statistics and empirical evidence detailing our kid’s disconnection from their communities and disengagement in our civic process. Not only is disempowering our next generation damaging our future, we are missing out on their action now. Our kids are often our most passionate citizens, who desire to help others and make the world the better place. And when you give kids the power to do this work, amazing things happen. So here are 3 simple things you can do today to empower the kids in your life.
#3: A Small Message with BIG Consequences. Children come into this world with compassionate hearts and the creativity to address serious problems. Yet, in response to their big ideas, they are often told they are too young and too small to make a difference.
What you can do to turn it around: Support and encourage kids by simply telling them they are just the right age and size to do important things and make the world a better place. This small message to our youngest citizens will have BIG consequences.
#2: Let the SPARKS Fly! Sparks are the glimmers of light and fire inside each and every one of us; they give us our individual strength and desire to contribute to the world. One of our greatest purposes in life is to find, ignite and continuously kindle our sparks, and help others, especially our youth, ignite and kindle theirs. Yet, even though kids are born with these internal sparks, their light is unignited or are even extinguished. Click here to learn more about the Search Institute’s Sparks research as it relates to youth development.
What you can do to turn it around: Talk to kids about sparks. Expose them to diverse activities. Observe their response to these activities. Engage them in a conversation so they can reflect on whether or not they have caught a spark. Sit back and enjoy the new meaning of “Catching Fire.”
#1: Put Them in the Driver’s Seat. Okay, not literally. (That’s one of the few things kids actually shouldn’t do!) But here’s the deal: Only 1 in 4 children believe they are valued as a resource by adults and are given significant roles in their community. This means only 25% of our children know their place in the world and the other 75% are disconnected from their community and civic engagement.
What you can do to turn it around: Talk to kids about community issues and ask them what they care about most. If they love animals, they can donate blankets and towels to their local animal shelter. If they don’t want people to go hungry, they can go through their food pantry to grab items to donate to a local food bank. Even better: ask kids if they have an idea of what they can do for their issue. The more kids are taking charge of this process, the better. Tell kids that these small acts will make a big difference and ask if they want to get their friends involved. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves too. There’s no telling where you’ll end up once you incite the passion and creativity of our kids and put them in the (figurative) driver’s seat.