Asset Corner #99
March’s Asset Category: SOCIAL COMPETENCIES. Learning social skills is a lot like learning to play the piano in that you need to learn some basic competencies and you need someone to teach you those skills. You need time to practice, guidance as you gain experience, and feedback along the way. Social competencies are the skills and life perspectives young people need to develop into healthy, competent adults. These skills are important daily, but they’re even more crucial when young people encounter the tough times in life. Young people who can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations are more likely to avoid risky behaviors and focus on positive attitudes. Research shows the more personal skills young people have to interact with others and make decisions, the more likely they are to grow up healthy.
This month’s column will focus on: Asset 32: Planning & Decision Making
Decisions, decisions . . .
Wear a blue shirt or a red shirt? Try to fit in or create your own style? Go out with so-and-so or find a way to say “No thanks”? Watch some TV or do homework first? Young people make a lot of decisions every day. Some are easy, others difficult, and still others just plain irritating. But all of these decisions are good practice for their future as they learn how to take more control of their lives. Best of all, when young people start connecting the choices they make today with their futures (goals, dreams, ideas for jobs), the better they’ll get at actually planning for what they want.
Here are the facts
Research shows that young people who learn to make good decisions and plan ahead do better in school, are less likely to engage in drinking, smoking, or using other drugs, and are better able to accomplish more of what they want. Only about 29 percent of young people, ages 11–18, say they know how to plan ahead and make choices, according to Search Institute surveys. Show young people different strategies to effectively plan ahead and make healthy decisions.
Tips for building this asset
Encourage young people to keep a daily “to do” list and check off items as they complete the tasks. Allow room for mistakes, but avoid rescuing them from the consequences. Celebrate progress and accomplishments in planning and decision making.
Also try this
In your home and family: Talk with your child about how you make decisions. Have you changed your approach over time? Invite your child to help with making a decision or plan a family event.
In your neighborhood and community: Invite local young people to help plan and organize a neighborhood party or potluck.
In your school or youth program: On the board or using newsprint, make two columns. Write Decision above one column, Future above the other. Have each young person list a decision he or she needs to make, then rank how connected (1 = low, 5 = high) it is to a future goal or plan (grades, college, jobs). Discuss.
Visit www.search-institute.org/assets for more information about the 40 Developmental Assets and ideas for helping young people build them. Or go here http://www.parentfurther.com/ for great asset-based parenting tips, tricks, activities and ideas.