by Lindsay Fernandez Richardson, MS, LMHC
Empowerment is a person’s belief in their ability to make good choices and solve problems. Studies show that empowerment is a key factor in young people’s potential to grow into healthy adults.
1. Show young people that adults respect and appreciate them. Youth develop the confidence they need to learn and try new skills when adults demonstrate that they are valued and that their thoughts are important.
○ Make an effort to acknowledge kids and teens, involve them in conversation, and ask for their feedback when making decisions.
2. Provide youth with opportunities to participate in meaningful roles and tasks. Young people begin to believe in themselves when they are given a sense of responsibility.
○ Ask youth to help at home, in school, or in extracurricular activities. Help them learn the skills they need to be successful in fulfilling their duties.
3. Encourage young people to serve the community for at least one hour per week. Volunteering offers the opportunity to learn skills that can help youth feel more confident in their abilities.
○ Model for young people how positive it can be to contribute and invite them along. Talk with youth about ways they are interested in serving the community and jointly choose a service project.
4. Help youth feel safe and secure at home, at school, and in the community. Young people who feel secure tend to be more open to challenging themselves.
○ Communicate with youth to find out if they are worried or feeling unsafe. Listen compassionately, work with them to identify solutions, and promptly address safety issues. Consider counseling if youth display persistent worrying or anxiety.