Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The 40 Assets...

I took another parenting class with a Friend last night, this one I knew nothing about. It was pretty interesting, and pretty entailed... and I think it's going to take me a while to get my head around it and put it into place.

The class description was this:

Young Children and the 40 assets: Helping them succeed
Come and explore a practical and proven way to raise successful children based on groundbreaking research by Search Institute, developer of the 40 assets. This class is designed for parents of young children birth to 9 years old. Parents will learn to build a solid foundation in child's early years, and discover tools and techniques to help them build assets to support and strengthen their children as they grow into happy, healthy, and responsible adults.

Sounds like hitting the lotto right? Especially for $6.50 (cost of the class)!

This class was two hours long, and I really did like what I heard. Essentially the Search Institute did a study and showed that children who are more equipped with more of the 40 assets the less likely they are to engage in high risk behaviors (alcohol use, violence, school problems) and the more likely they are to thrive. Getting to 40 assets is pretty hard, but having between 21-30 is pretty successful as well.

Still wondering what the 40 Developmental assets are? This is where it got tricky. The assets are split into two categories, External Assets and Internal Assets . There are sub-categories in each of those that break it down further. For External Assets it is support, empowerment, boundaries and expectations, constructive use of time. For Internal Assets it is commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies, positive identity.

So confusing right. I feared I would never get it.

The link that breaks this all down can be found here for young children, and then there are others for older age groups.
The teacher then explained it to us, and finally I got it. I will show you a couple of examples I liked so you get an idea. Basically it takes a village to raise a child, to raise a well rounded successful child. It is about building the family to support this, choosing a school to support this, a community to support this, letting them make choices, teaching them in a positive way.. the more of this they have the more they thrive (and stay away from those bad behaviours). It also is about being involved, a role model, and positive discipline.

Here are a couple of the assets and how you can teach them to a child;

Support Asset:
Family Support Parents and/or primary caregivers provide the child with high levels of consistent and predictable love, physical care, and positive attention in ways that are responsive to the child’s individuality.

Start meal traditions like a make your own pizza night, or pancakes on Sunday
Set aside time every day to focus completely on your children, let them lead on what to do talking, playing, singing or something else.

Positive Identity Asset:
Personal Power The child can make choices that give a sense of having some influence over things that happen in her or his life.

*Let children do things on their own sometimes, even if it does not make sense to you. If they enjoy reading a book upside down or backwards, do not interfere.
*Let children play with the toys they like. This helps them find their internal motivation; they are having fun to please themselves, not pleasing others.
*Encourage children to draw their own pictures, or color outside the lines.

A lot of it was about building self esteem in a child, something I think is very important. Some things I took away from that part of the class:

*Remind your child what you appreciate about them. Not just that you love them, but what you appreciate. "I appreciate how you make me laugh", things like that. For the simple things.

*Learn their love language and find what works best to show them you love them.

*A Mom talked about how she would reward her children by putting a bean in a jar for good things they did. Not just cleaning the room, or saying thank you.. but things they did on their own without thinking your watching. Like sharing a toy with another child. They got a bean, and when the jar is full that child got to choose what the family has for dinner. They love this because it is letting them make a choice and feeling empowered.

*Give your child a choice, within reason. Only give choices when there is one (so don't offer a choice you don't want them to choose). Never offer more than 2 choices. So letting them pick a book at bedtime or what shirt they wear (of the two choices you present). This also gives them empowerment and confidence in making decisions over time.

*Cheerleader them along even if they don't win. We are such a winner society, it is important to remind kids they are good enough and have the potential, even if they did not get a trophy for the efforts.

For Discipline

*During discipline think "what are they learning right now?" , use it as a teachable moment.

*Also give attention to the behaviour you want repeated. So if a tantrum happens, disengage and let them have it. Then when it is done thank them for stopping. So not at the start, and not during. She gave an example that she will tell her grandson "Thank you for stopping, my ears feel so much better now". They are more likely to repeat the behaviour they get attention for so give your attention to the behaviour you want to see.

*Whale Done a book she recommended reading about positive relationships.

We were given a print out of the 40 assets and asked to fill it out based on how we felt when we were about 15, and then talk about two that are still really important to us/affected our life. Also how we could do something small once a week/day to build an asset in our child, we wrote it down on a post-it and were asked to follow through.

So I am sure it will take a minute to get all this into action :). I am glad I went to the class and learned so much in 2 hours.


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