Give young people a chance to show you what they can do
Feeling valued and appreciated is important to all of us. For young people, this means feeling safe and
believing they’re liked and respected. These feelings can go a long way toward empowering children and
youth. Providing opportunities and recognizing accomplishments helps young people build self-esteem.
This in turn, gives them the confidence to share their ideas, knowledge, and creativity by volunteering and
working in paid jobs. By paying attention to young people, you show that you value them. Empowerment
is one of the eight asset categories that make up Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets, the qualities,
experiences, and relationships that help young people grow up healthy, caring, and responsible.
Here are the facts
Research shows the more young people are valued and feel valuable, the more likely they are to grow up
healthy and avoid risky behaviors, such as alcohol and other drug use, violence, and early sexual activity.
Search Institute has identified four assets in the Empowerment category crucial for helping young people
grow up healthy: Community Values Youth, Youth as Resources, Service to Others, and Safety.
Tips for building these assets
It’s not always easy to know what it takes for young people to feel empowered. Sometimes young people
doubt themselves or don’t feel valued despite the good intentions of and recognition from caring adults.
Communicate with young people openly and honestly about relationships, politics, religion, and other
serious issues. Young people need to know that their questions and concerns are valid and important.
Also try this
In your home and family: Empower your child by providing choices. Have regular family meetings
to plan, solve problems, and encourage one another. Rotate who leads the meetings.
In your neighborhood and community: Get involved in the community and advocate for
developing meaningful opportunities for young people, such as volunteer projects and civic
In your school or youth program: Take a field trip to a nursing home or senior
housing complex. Have students and group members perform a concert, and
afterwards talk to residents and learn about their present situations, as well as their
pasts. Ask participants to send thank you notes to the residents they met. Also
encourage the young people to discuss what they learned from their visit and what
they contributed to the lives of the residents.