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Helping Kids Gain Voice and Vigor

How can adults encourage young people’s commitment toward creating a better global community?

“It’s vital to children’s leadership development that adults support and reinforce their character strengths, emotional intelligence, and well-being.”

~ Being Smart about Gifted Learning, 3rd Edition, p. 382

Kids’ efforts, accomplishments, creative problem-solving initiatives, and levels of enthusiasm differ. Nevertheless, children and teens can make a difference by being purposeful, resourceful, and innovative, and by advocating for positive change.

When we give youth opportunities to think about and act upon their aspirations—including their hopes for society and the greater good—they can, and often do, develop and exercise admirable intentions.

Children are the keys to a better, safer, kinder, and more principled world.

Forward Momentum

Many kids are fueled by passion and driven by resolve. They frequently take steps forward by establishing goals, and then pacing themselves as they endeavor to get things done. Along the way, they acquire responsibility, gain experience, and find fulfillment.

Parents and teachers can help kids become proactive—for example, by encouraging them to engage in initiatives to help others, or to aspire toward leadership roles promoting meaningful action or reforms. Adults who invest in positive engagement can be effective role models.

Theologian Albert Schweitzer said, “Example is leadership.” To that end, adults can exemplify ethical behaviour and positive values, and show kids how to set reasonable objectives—ones that are affirming and attainable. Parents are well-positioned to help kids learn how to act with integrity and honesty, direct their intentions, extend their abilities productively, and be respectful of others.

Other Tips for Adults to Consider

Here are some additional ways parents can empower kids to maximize their strengths.

  1. Encourage kids to fire up their competencies and creativity. Historian Arnold Toynbee referred to creative ability as “mankind’s ultimate capital asset.” Problem-solving and resolutions often require fresh perspectives and creative ideas. Young people can share points of view, stretch the imagination, and discover innovative approaches for tackling problems.
  2. Reiterate that effort and perseverance are important. So, too, is resilience—the ability to pick oneself up after a stumble or fall. Provide reassurance and guidance.
  3. Emphasize that communication can spearhead positive change. Asking questions, pondering answers, and conveying ideas can forge connectivity. Inquiry, reflection, adaptability, and meaningful dialogue lead to collaborations, including alliances and support networks.
  4. Help kids appreciate the power of education. Learning—ideally from a variety of sources—is pivotal, and enhances possibilities for positive change.

Last Words

Many young people understand the nuances of responsibility and diversity, and exhibit strength and conviction as they strive to create a better world. They show willingness to envision and engage. Some students invest hundreds of hours leading or participating in meaningful programs within their schools and communities, such as involvement in anti-bullying campaigns, volunteer programs to help reduce hunger and poverty, and initiatives that speak up for marginalized groups or individuals.

Albert Einstein said, “Our morality in our actions can give beauty and dignity to life.” Bravo to all students who help others! May their voices and vigor resonate exponentially, inspiring everyone to think and feel more profoundly, to take positive action, and to become caring change-makers within an increasingly challenging world.

Author’s Note:
This piece is updated from an article written by Dr. Joanne Foster that was featured in issues of Best Version Media’s Neighbours Magazines, and distributed across Ontario, Canada.

Dr. Joanne Foster

Dr. Joanne Foster, an acclaimed author and educator, has dedicated over 35 years to gifted education and child development. With expertise in psychology and special education, her work empowers parents and educators, fostering creativity and high-level learning in children and teens.

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