Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Giving Teens Purpose and Hope For The Future

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We can all help improve the lives of teens and give them resilience in the midst of a critical time in their lives by helping them find a sense of purpose and hope for their futures!

The Teen Voice 2009 Survey found that teens who have hope and purpose also have:
  • A "spark" - an individual talent, passion, or gift that gives them energy and motivation to do well in life;
  • A belief that their voices are heard on key issues that matter to them; and
  • Access to high-quality resources and relationships that help them nurture their strengths.
The national survey of 1,817 teens, conducted by Search Institute found that a majority of 15-year-old teens lack high levels of each of the concepts: "sparks," "teen voice" and "relationships and opportunities."

Even those with a "spark" usually do not get support for it outside of their family, only 18% of teens report being actively engaged in social issues, and teens with strong relationships are more hopeful and more likely to take on leadership roles.

The clear message is that adults can make a difference inthe lives of teens. Please take the time to:
  • Ask teens about things that matter to them.
  • Give them time - your time and help them explore things in the world until they find something that matters.
  • Introduce teens to people who share their spark or interests.
  • Believe in them - expect a lot and encourage them.
  • Help them learn how to make a plan and take the next step.
  • Stand up for teens when you hear people putting them down - they need allies.
  • Spend time with people of all generations.
  • Encourage teens to spend time doing what sparks them - and have a voice in something they think matters.
  • Help them figure out what gets in their way - listen first, then help them find a way around it.
  • Listen to them - don't assume they share your values.
  • Encourage them to volunteer and contribute to their community.
  • Introduce them to new things and interests. People who are life-long learners are interested in things.
  • Help them learn how to set priorities and focus on what is the most important.
  • Support them every step of the way - encourage, celebrate and help them find their voice.
Remember, the benefits of good parenting are wonderful but - "Good parenting is never convenient."
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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