Bringing out the best in children – Part 2

The assets described in the previous post (Bringing out the best in children) speaks directly to the role of multiple developmental etiologies – families, neighbourhoods, schools, child organizations, faith communities and programmes. It invites conversations across sectors, rather than turning all the responsibility and blame on professionals and programmes.

Communities are challenged to reflect on the many potential sources of assets in their midst. By doing so, they would examine whether young children experience the deep sustained relationships needed for these capacities to develop.

The assets also motivate multiple systems within our communities to pool our resources in a coherent long-term, multi-system, and citizen-engaged initiative. Each and every individual should recognize their need to deepen their knowledge and strategies for raising healthy, responsible, successful children.

By working hand-in-hand across our communities, we learn to connect, learn from, and teach one another in a growing network of committed culture.

Here are some questions we can ponder, and expand upon.

  • How can we expand civic engagement?
  • What do schools require to be developmentally attentive?
  • How can we build a social trust within neighbourhoods?
  • How can we once again, create an inter-generational community?
  • What is the measure of support in an average family?
  • Are our children seeking their advice and help from their families when dealing with tough issues?
  • Are children receiving help and support through other adults (therapists, teachers, mentors, neighbours)?

This transmission of inter-generational wisdom is one of the most powerful ways of adult relationships support. When children observe, learn from and be in dialogue with adults, it results in community values, services to others, and also erects a protective buffer against risk behaviours within children. When this relationships are sustained, they become more powerful. However, is our society organized to be such?

  • Do child have the same teacher over a period of few years?
  • The high level of family mobility often results in sever in relationships within neighbours.
  • Does our neighbourhood work together (informally) to be collectively responsible for children?
  • Do schools generate daily and sustained messages and symbols of personal support?

Although early childhood programmes are encouraged to conduct small classes, we often find programmes (due to many reasons) holding large, impersonal classes.

  • Do children feel noticed, named, included and encouraged in such large, impersonal classes?
  • Do schools encourage parent involvement?

Parent involvement not only helps improve the school, and motivate children to achieve, it also drastically reduces risk-taking behaviours within children. Parents are also able to create a positive learning environment in their homes thus ensuring effective schools for all children within our community.

  • Are children encouraged to get involved in service to others?

A growing body of literature supports the power of children involvement in services. This strengthens both academic and social outcomes, and is valuable to both the community, and young children. While this may be mandatory in primary schools, such empathy should be encouraged and demonstrated from a child’s early foundation age.

It might be that all children have some of the assets, or few children have all assets. That is not important. It is crucial that the scaffold for healthy development should rise up from the foundation age of every child.

What are some of the affecting patterns?

  1. Race and Ethnicity
  2. Income
  3. Gender
  4. Age
  5. Size of community

The more assets children experience the higher their chances for growing up successfully. For a long time, we found ourselves developing a consensus on the bad things we want to prevent, instead of developing a parallel consensus on what we want to promote or encourage.

Fortunately, it is heartening to see that we have since re-focused our policies, media projects and are beginning to see children as resources to be valued. Efforts are now under way to identify positive behaviours that contribute to both individual and societal health and well-being. What is required is as much knowledge of and attention to promotion as to prevention and by extension, intervention and recovery.

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