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Learn the basics of youth empowerment and how you can encourage your child on that difficult transition to adulthood.
Everyone seems to be talking about empowerment these days, female empowerment, worker’s empowerment, and youth empowerment are just some of the phrases that are flying around. But what exactly does that empowerment mean, and how can one apply the concept to their own life? History of Youth Empowerment: The youth empowerment movement started in the 1960s, when students at universities across the United States began to get involved in politics and protests on campus.
Even earlier than that, campuses and students had played a large role in the Civil Rights movement and in other political and social movements, but for the first time youth and students began to be seen as political and social actors. In response to the Vietnam War, student protests and organizations sprung up, and students demanded the right to be heard. Since those rebellious days, youth empowerment has calmed down significantly, but it continues to be an important part of childhood development and an essential phase of the transition to adulthood.
Typically taking place during High School and college years, the transition is accompanied by increased involvement in student activities and a growing independence in making life choices and choosing a personal direction. At the same time, young teens making that transition to adulthood learn to make their own decisions and stick by them, and hopefully to learn from their own mistakes. It is a time when young people being to go out into the world on their own and to learn how to succeed on their own terms.
How to encourage youth empowerment: Because youth empowerment and personal growth are so important for young people to learn, the process should be encouraged and understood. During this difficult period of transition, young adults often have many questions and issues, and parents and families should try to respond in a sensitive way to the specific needs of the children. One of the most common and beneficial ways to encourage personal growth and empowerment is to give young adults increased responsibilities in their own lives.
An after-school job, for example, can be a great way to teach a growing child about the important of time management, while giving them a chance to earn some personal money. Just as important as letting them take the job is letting them use the money they earn for the things they like. Secondly, school organizations and clubs are also a place for growing teens to become involved in their community and in a variety of tasks and hobbies. Anything from the school newspaper to drama clubs to a music group can teach your child valuable skills while helping them explore their own interests.
Finally, summer internships can also be a valuable way to give children and students work experience and job skills at a young age. Internships can also get youth thinking about possible career opportunities or directions for their own future, and are a great opportunity for making them feel independent and on their own. Possible problems with youth empowerment: As children grow older and begin to set out on their own path and take charge of their lives, it is common for problems to arise between them and their parents.
Often, a rebellious phase accompanies issues of youth empowerment, and a child may feel they need additional space from their family to grown in their own direction and under their own control. The best thing to do in these cases is often for a parent or family to show that they care about heir child and to encourage them to explore on their own, with the support of the family when they need it. Letting children take on their own challenges and treating them with respect and dignity as they do so is likely to bring out a more responsible and respectful attitude in the child themselves.
And while giving advice is a common desire by parents who want to spare their children the pain of making mistakes, often learning through trial and error is an integral part of growing up and becoming self-empowered. As children grow up and begin to set out on their own, through youth empowerment and increased self-direction, they should be encouraged and given positive feedback. Being a child is hard enough, especially in the transition to adulthood, and understanding and sensitive parents can be a major help in successfully making that transition.
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