Worry, Worry, Worry by Erika Guy, Dean of Students
I am a world-class worrier. I come by it honestly. One needs only to meet my mother or sister to understand my pedigree. Contemplating and evaluating adolescent development is one of my primary concerns and, at times, it tends to consume me. I weigh almost everything I read, see, hear or experience in my professional life in terms of what the net result might be for the adolescent journey. Given my chosen profession, this is, I suppose, an occupational hazard. As the cultural, societal and technological landscape slips, slides and shifts I find myself constantly trying to assess the gains, losses and impact upon the emerging adolescents (i.e., I often wonder if texting will, over time and evolution, lengthen the thumbs of a future generation of kids! Will the abbreviated messaging in tweeting curtail deep thoughts? Will play groups end resilience? Will specialization and the professionalization of childhood end creative thinking? Etc., etc.). Additionally, there is plenty in the news each day to deepen the worry lines.
When I work myself into a frenzy about the kind of world we are creating for future generations, I often assuage my fears by going back to the tried and true balm of what is known as the “40 Assets.” This list of developmental milestones that help to predict healthy development throughout the adolescent years has often rescued me from the spiral of negative thinking. When I read through the list of assets I see so many bright spots…so many “points of light” in what we are working toward at Nobles. I have excerpted some of that list below:
40 Developmental Assets® for Adolescents (ages 12-18)*
1. Family support—Family life provides high levels of love and support.
2. Positive family communication—Young person and her or his parent(s) communicate positively, and young person is willing to seek advice and counsel from parents.
3. Other adult relationships—Young person receives support from three or more nonparent adults.
4. Caring neighborhood—Young person experiences caring neighbors.
5. Caring school climate—School provides a caring, encouraging environment.
6. Parent involvement in schooling—Parent(s) are actively involved in helping young person succeed in school.
Boundaries and expectations
11. Family boundaries—Family has clear rules and consequences and monitors the young person’s whereabouts.
12. School boundaries—School provides clear rules and consequences.
13. Neighborhood boundaries—Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring young people’s behavior.
14. Adult role models—Parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior.
15. Positive peer influence—Young person’s best friends model responsible behavior.
16. High expectations—Both parent(s) and teachers encourage the young person to do well.
26. Caring—Young person places high value on helping other people.
27. Equality and social justice—Young person places high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty.
28. Integrity—Young person acts on convictions and stands up for her or his beliefs.
29. Honesty—Young person “tells the truth even when it is not easy.”
30. Responsibility—Young person accepts and takes personal responsibility.
31. Restraint—Young person believes it is important not to be sexually active or to use alcohol or other drugs.
32. Planning and decision making—Young person knows how to plan ahead and make choices.
33. Interpersonal competence—Young person has empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills.
34. Cultural competence—Young person has knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds.
35. Resistance skills—Young person can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations.
36. Peaceful conflict resolution—Young person seeks to resolve conflict nonviolently.
37. Personal power—Young person feels he or she has control over “things that happen to me.”
38. Self-esteem—Young person reports having a high self-esteem.
39. Sense of purpose—Young person reports that “my life has a purpose.”
40. Positive view of personal future—Young person is optimistic about her or his personal future
**Search Institute, 615 First Avenue N.E., Suite 125, Minneapolis, MN 55413; 800-888-7828; www.search-institute.org. All Rights Reserved. The following are registered trademarks of Search Institute: Search Institute®, Developmental Assets® and Healthy Communities • Healthy Youth®.
When the 40 developmental assets are not enough, I think back to an exercise that I use with my Personal Development class. Through a process of elimination, I ask students to identify from a long list of values, three BEDROCK core values. I am always heartened by the words they choose and the values they defend adamantly and articulately. PHEW!
Thanks for reading,