medicines without prescriptions

The Power of Re-directing

March 11th, 2016

Guest blogger: Vanessa Helbig

Vanessa shares about the intentional action steps she took as a result of attending one of the trainings towards getting her Youth Worker Certification.

I started working with the girls at my site on December 1st. They are a very lively and spirited group; however, they often channel this energy into negative outlets. The classroom was often in chaos with students speaking loudly, arguing, complaining, and acting unhappy with a variety of new teachers coming in and out throughout the semester. They were feeling abandoned, with little structure. So there I was, the third teacher these girls have had walk into their lives in the past three months. They were very skeptical of me and the changes I had to implement. Each day felt like a battle. I spent most days trying to quiet angry students and redirect everyone to positivity and completing tasks.  I started to notice that when I walked into the school, I was bracing myself for certain students to act out as they always had in the past.

However, in the training, we talked about not pre-judging our students and that has sat with me for a while. As much as I wanted to look at each student with new hope every day, I looked at them through my own survival mode. I noticed their misbehavior first, instead of the sharply-tuned skills they were trying to master. Most of their negative behaviors were their own survival modes. Some were guarding themselves from another person walking out of their lives, venting the overload of emotions from a dramatic day, or trying to navigate growing up. In those moments they were responding with their gifts and talents in the only way they knew how.

I wanted to guide them into finding positive outlets for their natural strengths for the betterment of the group.  I channeled my discouragement of loud students who always want to talk and be the center of attention to encouragement of the student’s talent for leadership and communication.  I would look at angry students who were always upset with someone, and value their passion for friendship and loyalty. When a student would act out and I was not able to reign them back in, we would step aside for a chat. I would tell them how thankful I was for their leadership, passion, etc., and I would make sure they knew how special their traits were. Then I would ask them to help me lead the classroom with respect and kindness. Then I would address their specific misbehavior.

With this change, I started to feel better when I looked at my students. I would look at them and see hope and possibilities. In addition, I now try daily to compliment each girl throughout the class time. I try to point out something positive in each one of them where everyone else can hear. In this way I am encouraging positive behaviors and building stronger relationships with my students.

Sadly, this story doesn’t end perfectly. A few of my students have been exited from the program for behavior issues, but each of them knew that I believed they could improve their behaviors and that I saw amazing gifts in them.  Through their behavior issues I had a chance to talk to them about their value and talents; this time was an opportunity we may not have had otherwise. I hope those seeds take root over time in their lives. However, I have still witnessed successes in each girl. When my girls start to get upset they will ask to speak with me so they can calm down and have a listening ear. These moments are huge successes for me because not only are they realizing that I care, but they are practicing a coping skill that will help them their whole lives.

They are learning to pause, take a breath, and communicate before acting out. In addition, one of my girls has opened up to me about her struggle to still be a good person. We are talking about all the good she is and wants to be, but she is struggling with navigating peer pressure and growing up. When she has a difficult behavior day, she always apologizes to me and we discuss what we can do for next time. That is such a big improvement, and I believe my curtailing judgement and giving of grace has helped this change take place.

My classroom is now a room where I give grace, highlight strengths, and start each day with new hope for each student! It does not always look neat, quiet and orderly but it is a place where each student is learning their value.

What action can you commit to trying to have a more positive influence on your youth?

 

6 Tips for Dealing with Conflict with Youth

August 26th, 2015

The book Building Developmental Assets in School Communities offers tips for dealing with conflict one-on-one with the instigator to help influence behaviors in a positive way. We adapted and expanded a few of their ideas included below:

  1. Use their name. This communicates respect and attention.
  2. Identify the inappropriate behavior. Stick with facts in this reflection—no shaming or expressing your own feelings. Don’t, for instance, say you were disappointed or worried, which only tends to add to the negativity.
  3. Indicate that the behavior does not match up with how you see them. Emphasize the good and the potential that you know is within them. In The Dark Knight Rises, there’s a scene where Batman asks Cat Woman, a burglar, to help people in the city escape. She responds by asking why she should help or get involved and declares that she’s not that good of a person. He responds by saying that she is stronger than that. He lets her know that he sees something valuable within her (even though she doesn’t see it in herself). In the end, she lives up to what he believes about her. Look for the good within. Mirror it to the young person.
  4. Ask them what happened. Indicate that you understand but that what they did was inappropriate. Give them the opportunity to share and think through their actions. Reiterate what is wrong and why.
  5. Model a different way. Ask them to show you an appropriate way to respond, a better way to handle the situation. If they get stuck, ask them if they want you to model a response.
  6. Encourage them. Always close tough conversations with a word of encouragement and thanks. Thank them for listening and express your belief in them to do things differently and better next time: “I believe in you.” “I know you can be the child you want to be.” “I’ve seen you make progress in this area, and I know you’re going to grow more and more.” “I care for you, and I will walk with you as you struggle with this issue. Know that you won’t be working on this alone.”

This is an excerpt from our new book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

Words from Youth Workers: Developmental Assets

July 29th, 2015

Developmental assets remind us that it’s the little, everyday things that are important with kids: listening, playing, having conversations about the things that are important to them.  Assets keep us REAL and connected.”  YMCA youth worker, Nashville

Wanna know more about the assets?  Ask us about connecting you to literature or workshops to help your organization understand and utilize the framework or Developmental Assets.  It’s not an add-on – it’s a way of living and being and talking together!

Sneak Peek into our New Book: Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: An Essential Handbook for Working with Youth”

September 8th, 2014

We are so excited about our new book which should come in the mail any day!!  It’s called “Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: An Essential Handbook for Working with Youth“.

This inspiring guide is for teachers, volunteers, group leaders, youth counselors, coaches, and anyone who works with young people. Readers will learn about how young people are wired, how to create inviting classrooms and meeting spaces, and how to connect with students in meaningful, lasting ways. Find dozens of strategies to help young people discover their inner strengths and passions. Dozens of games, activities, icebreakers, and quizzes will keep you and your young people engaged and motivated.

We thought you might like a sneak peek into the content, so here are the section titles and chapter titles.  More to come…

Part One: Youth, Strength, and Power

Chapter One: A Strength-Based Approach to Positive Youth Development

Chapter Two: Putting Positive Youth Development to Work

Chapter Three: Understanding How Young People Are Wired

Chapter Four: How Young People Think and See the World

 

Part Two: Activating Power

Chapter Five: Preparation: The Work before the Work

Chapter Six: Connect with Them

Chapter Seven: Know Them

Chapter Eight: Engage Them

Chapter Nine: Stretch Them

Chapter Ten: Challenge Them

Chapter Eleven: Power Up

 

Part Three:  Sustaining Power

Chapter Twelve: The Practice of Self-Mastery

Chapter Thirteen: The Practice of Gratitude

Chapter Fourteen: The Practice of Recharging

Goodie Bags Build Assets

March 3rd, 2014

My friends Mary & Lauren have been doing a thoughtful family project to help people that are homeless. They help their children decorate lunch bags with cheerful pictures, then they fill the bags with nonperishable snacks like granola bars, raisins, peanut butter crackers, pretzels, juice boxes… When they drive past a homeless person asking for money, they share one of their bags of goodies.

This would be an easy project to do with a class or afterschool club, and you can engage children ages 2-22.

It’s a safe and simple way to help people in need. It teaches your children to recognize people that are in need, and find ways to help. It encourages your children to be creative. It helps families combat the me-me-me attitude that creeps up on all of us.

Here are some of the specific assets this project helps to build:

Youth as resources. Young people are given useful roles in the community. Service to others. Young person feels safe at home, school, and in the neighborhood.
Adult role models. Parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behaviour.
Creative activities. Young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theatre, or other arts.
Caring. Young person places high value on helping other people.
Equality and social justice. Young person places high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty.
Responsibility. Young person accepts and takes personal responsibility.
Planning and decision making. Young person knows how to plan ahead and make choices.
Interpersonal competence. Young person has empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills.
Cultural competence. Young person has knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds.

I’d love to hear about simple ways you’ve seen children help people in need! You can email me at ann(at)theassetedge(dot)net or simply leave a comment below.

Crossword Connections

February 3rd, 2014

A stage one teambuilder from the Great Group Games book

Time: 15-20 minutes

Supplies: paper and pen for each participant

Description:
Give each person a piece of paper and ask them to write their full name in large letters across the middle of the page. Then ask everyone to mingle for 5-7 minutes, searching for “connections” (commonalities) they have with one another. When you discover a “connection,” write your new friend’s first name in crossword style to connect with your name, then record your specific commonality on the back of the page. See how many connections everyone can find in a short amount of time.

Going Deeper:
§ How can we be so different, yet so much alike?
§ How does finding commonalities affect your comfort level in a group?
§ Do we take the time to find commonalities in everyday life? Why or why not?
§ Does finding commonalities make it easier to start conversations? Build relationships?

Assets: interpersonal competence, safety, positive peer influence, support

Sticky I.D.

January 29th, 2014

A game from the Great Group Games book

Time: 20 minutes

Supplies: a post-it note and pen for each participant

Description:
Give each participant a post-it note and a pen. Ask them to draw 2 lines (making a “t”) that split their paper into four squares. Have them fill in the blanks for the following questions:

*Something you liked doing when you were younger that you still enjoy
*One of your favorite things to do outside
*Something you’d like to learn more about
*A place you’d love to visit one day

When everyone is done, ask people to partner up with someone they don’t know very well, share names if they don’t know them and share the answers to their questions. When you blow the whistle, ask participants to find a new partner. After rotating through 5-6 partners, ask the group to form a circle and share some of the things they learned about one another.

Going Deeper:
* While talking with others, did you remember any fun activities that you especially enjoy?
* What kinds of topics were other people interested in learning more about?
* Did you discover anything that you had in common with someone else in the group?

Assets: Support, commitment to learning, safety, interpersonal competence, constructive use of time

Ten Benefits of Frequent Family Dinners

January 13th, 2014

The more often children and teens eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink and use drugs. Check out this research about children and teens that have frequent family dinners. They are:

1. are at half the risk for substance abuse compared to teens who dine with their families infrequently
2. are less likely to have friends or classmates who use illicit drugs or abuse prescription drugs
3. have lower levels of tension and stress at home
4. are more likely to say that their parents are proud of them
5. are likelier to say they can confide in their parents
6. are likelier to get better grades in school
7. are more likely to be emotionally content and have positive peer relationships
8. have healthier eating habits
9. are at lower risk for thoughts of suicide
10. are less likely to try marijuana or have friends who use marijuana
(The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University)

% Teens Who Smoke, Drink, Use Marijuana in Relation to Family Dinners
5-7 dinners/week 0-2 dinners/week
Cigarettes 14 34
Alcohol 30 52
Marijuana 12 35
(The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University)

Family support is one of the 40 Developmental Assets that lead to a child’s success in life. Taking time to build a supportive family environment is critical to a child’s overall well-being. Children and teens need time with their families – time to eat together, time to grow together, time to play together, time to overcome challenges together, and time to live life side-by-side with people that care about them.

Maybe it’s impossible for your family to eat dinner together. That doesn’t mean your family is doomed. But you’ll need to get creative – how can you structure your family time in a way that is supportive to all family members?

MLK Day Service Project Ideas

January 7th, 2014

An excerpt from our monthly Asset Messenger. To subscribe to the free monthly newsletter, send me an email at ann(at)theassetedge(dot)net.

—————————————————
MLK Day – A Day ON, Not A Day OFF
“We have an opportunity to make a better nation.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 19, 2009, is a holiday for many schools and businesses. Congress has designated it as a national day of volunteer service. Instead of taking a day off from work or school, Americans are challenged to “celebrate Dr. King’s legacy by turning community concerns into citizen action” (mlk.gov). And serving others is one of the best ways you can nurture assets in children and youth.

How can your family or group serve on MLK Day? You might choose to serve a meal at a homeless shelter, make care packages for senior citizens, or paint over graffiti. You could host a field day at a recreation center, bake cookies for teachers, or clean the apartment of an AIDS victim. The possibilities are endless!

Volunteering doesn’t have to be ‘just another thing’ on your to do list this month. It can be a natural outflow of your interests and talents, an opportunity to build relationships, and a great way to build memories. Here are some steps to get you started:

1. Ask group members about their skills, talents and passions – what do they love to do? Your list might include basketball, painting, singing, or playing games. Or organizing, hospitality, and making new friends.
2. Ask them what they would like to see change in the community (or neighborhood or school). You might hear interest areas such as the homeless, people with physical challenges, helping children learn to read, bullying or breaking up school cliques.
3. See where group strengths and community needs overlap, and start with a simple service project.
• If your group likes music and they are concerned about loneliness in nursing homes, plan a time to go sing with friends at a local nursing home.
• If your group loves sports and they are concerned about their peers getting involved in negative activities, ask if you can host a family sports night at the gym.
• If your group enjoys playing board games or working puzzles, call a homeless shelter to see if you can host a game night after an evening meal.
• If you have an artistic group, you might paint a mural at church, at school, or at a community center.
• If you love the outdoors, you might encourage people to recycle or pick up trash on a hiking excursion.

You were created with unique skills and talents – how will you use those gifts to make your community stronger on MLK Day and throughout the year?

If your group wants to explore volunteering and service-learning more deeply, check out our new book, “Ready-to-Go Service Projects: 140 Ways for Youth Groups to Lend a Hand”. It has 17 interactive lesson plans to help youth groups discover meaningful service opportunities and 17 topical issues with service project ideas. It also explores the connections between faith and service. You can find it online at your favorite bookseller.

Find more ideas for volunteering and nurturing children and youth on our blog at www.theassetedge.net.

November 1st, 2013

An after-school agency asked us to develop a training to help equip their frontline staff in the basics of positive youth development.  They have a lot of very young staff members as well as a lot of staff that have been working with them for over a decade.  They want to break some bad habits in their youth workers and nurture staff members to build strong relationships within their team and with young people.  After talking with the supervisor, we developed this 2-hour workshop for them.  We’ll lead 8 different sessions of this workshop, so we can reach 160+ of their staff.

Youth Development Training:  This workshop will introduce staff to the 40 Developmental Assets and help them consider  how they nurture assets in their programming.  We will also explore foundations for positive youth development in an interactive and applicable way.  Finally, we will dig into strategies for engaging youth and deepening relationships.

How are you investing in your youth workers and educators?

How might we partner with you to help strengthen your agency?

Give us a call at 615.262.9676 or email cad@TheAssetEdge.net.

 

Kiss My Assets: Lighting the S.P.A.R.K. in the Young People We Love

September 25th, 2013

by DrRobyn

We know it when we see it. Strength. Power. Self-assuredness. Guts. The wonder of assets in motion. Brought to life in a child not only in the way s/he acts, but in the way s/he thinks and feels about him/herself and the world in which s/he lives. Studies of more than 2.2 million children and teens from the Search Institute, an organization that promotes healthy children, youth and communities, consistently show that the more assets young people have, the more successful they are, and the less likely they are to engage in risky behaviors.

But it’s more than just a list of competencies. Our children must have what researchers at Search Institute call “spark” – an interest, talent, skill, asset or dream (academic, relational, athletic, artistic or intellectual) that excites them and enables them to discover their true passions, along with encouragement from trusted adults to nurture it. In my experience with young people, I have also seen spark further fueled when they have the “know how,” committed behaviors or “actions” behind those aspirations and defined reasons for pursuing their passion. Therefore, I’ve expanded the Search Institute term into the broader acronym, S.P.A.R.K.:

Keep reading here

Back to School – Games Style #4

August 23rd, 2013

Here’s another excerpt from our book, Great Group Games: 175 Boredom Busting Zero Prep Team Builders for all Ages.

Hidden Hands

Time: 15 – 25 minutes

Supplies: one comic strip panel (make a copy of the strip for each group of 3-4 participants), one envelope for each group

Description:

This activity is good to give participants practice in communicating with other team members and in making group decisions. You will need a comic strip (duplicated so each work group has a copy), and one envelope for each subgroup. To prepare, photocopy enough copies of the comic strip to provide one for each work group. Cut each strip into separate panels and place the panels in an envelope.

Instruct the participants to form work groups of three to four members each. Distribute one envelope containing a set of comic strip panels to each team.

Direct the members of each team to open the envelope, place the panels of the comic strip face down without examining them, and shuffle them around the table. While the panels are on the table face down, hidden from view, members of each team take turns drawing a panel (without showing it to others), going around until all panels have been chosen. Team members are allowed to describe their own panels as fully as possible, but they are not allowed to look at the panels of the other participants or to show their panels to others.
When the team members have agreed on which panel is first in the cartoon (based on the participants’ descriptions of the panels), they place it face down on the table. After they have placed all the panels face down in the order they have determined, they then turn them over to see if they have sequenced the comic in the proper order.

Going Deeper:

§ What communication process was used to describe the panels?
§ What are the strengths and challenges of your communication style?
§ How did the team decide what panels went where?
§ Did you readily share your opinions, were you hesitant to share, or were you perhaps a bit too wordy in your sharing?
§ How might this activity challenge your group to more effectively work together in the future?

Assets: social competencies, commitment to learning, boundaries and expectations

Back to School – Games Style #2

August 21st, 2013

Here’s another warm-up for a new group during this back-to-school season.  It’s from Great Group Games.

It’s Your Birthday
Time: 10-15 minutes
Supplies: music

Description:
“Today is your birthday and this is your party! As hostess/host of this party you have to introduce as many of these people to each other as you possibly can.” After people have had a chance to mingle, do a quick hand count of who introduced the most people. To make it more challenging, see how many names people can remember.  To make it more like a party, play some music as the people mingle.

Assets: support, social competencies, safety

Back to School – Games Style #3

August 16th, 2013

Here’s another excerpt from our book, Great Group Games: 175 Boredom Busting Zero Prep Team Builders for all Ages.

Hidden Hands

Time: 15 – 25 minutes

Supplies: one comic strip panel (make a copy of the strip for each group of 3-4 participants), one envelope for each group

Description:

This activity is good to give participants practice in communicating with other team members and in making group decisions. You will need a comic strip (duplicated so each work group has a copy), and one envelope for each subgroup. To prepare, photocopy enough copies of the comic strip to provide one for each work group. Cut each strip into separate panels and place the panels in an envelope.

Instruct the participants to form work groups of three to four members each. Distribute one envelope containing a set of comic strip panels to each team.

Direct the members of each team to open the envelope, place the panels of the comic strip face down without examining them, and shuffle them around the table. While the panels are on the table face down, hidden from view, members of each team take turns drawing a panel (without showing it to others), going around until all panels have been chosen. Team members are allowed to describe their own panels as fully as possible, but they are not allowed to look at the panels of the other participants or to show their panels to others.
When the team members have agreed on which panel is first in the cartoon (based on the participants’ descriptions of the panels), they place it face down on the table. After they have placed all the panels face down in the order they have determined, they then turn them over to see if they have sequenced the comic in the proper order.

Going Deeper:

§ What communication process was used to describe the panels?
§ What are the strengths and challenges of your communication style?
§ How did the team decide what panels went where?
§ Did you readily share your opinions, were you hesitant to share, or were you perhaps a bit too wordy in your sharing?
§ How might this activity challenge your group to more effectively work together in the future?

Assets: social competencies, commitment to learning, boundaries and expectations

Hog Call

June 25th, 2013

A stage 2 game from Great Group Games

Time: 20 minutes

Supplies: index cards with compound words, one for each person

Set-Up:
Make a set of index cards with compound words. For example, on one card write ‘peanut’, and on the other card write ‘butter’. On one card write ‘shoe’, and on the partnering card, write ‘lace’.

Description:
Shuffle the cards and randomly give everyone a card. When you give the cue, ask participants to hunt for their compound word partners. When everyone thinks they’ve found a partner, have them form a large circle, standing beside their compound partner. The group may need to problem solve & shuffle people around, because some words will have multiple possibilities for their partners.

Going Deeper:
§ How did you first respond to the task of finding your compound word partner?
§ What tactics helped you to succeed?
§ Did priorities and decision-making ever come into play?
§ If your word fit with multiple words, how did that make you feel?
§ If it took you an especially long time to find your word match, how did that make you feel?
§ How might these experiences apply to real life?

Assets: social competencies, positive identity, creative activities