Written by Andrea Knox, former SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Development & Resiliency Field Specialist.
Contribution is an important building block of resiliency because it helps youth gain a sense of purpose. We all want to feel our lives have meaning and purpose and youth are no different. Children and teens have much to contribute to society. What a wonderful moment it can be when children realize the world is a better place because they are in it and have much to offer! Service or contribution to others can fuel their sense of purpose and motivation.
Contribution is closely connected to the four “C’s of Resilience” discussed in previous articles; competence, confidence, connection and character. Volunteer experiences offer new opportunities for youth to gain competencies. They may discover interests and talents they did not know they had. As children carry out their activities they gain a greater sense of confidence as they practice new abilities and see the difference their efforts make. Service allows youth to connect with others whether it’s a volunteer group or neighbors and the community at large, their sense of connection to the world is increased. Contribution strengthens character by fostering many positive traits such as responsibility and kindness.
Contribution helps us all see beyond ourselves and pays great dividends. These dividends are not just to those served, but likely more so to the one doing the serving who is gaining valuable experiences that will help him thrive. It is important for youth to have a hand in all aspects of contribution from choosing, planning to carrying out their efforts. This full involvement will provide the greatest impact for youth.
Before we can foster this sense of contribution, here are some things to consider:
- Do I communicate to my child (at appropriate age levels, of course) that many people in the world do not have as much human contact, money, freedom, and security as they need?
- Do I teach the important value of serving others?
- Do I model generosity with my time and money?
- Do I make clear to my child that I believe he can improve the world?
- Do I create opportunities for each child to contribute in some specific way?
- Do I search my child’s circle for other adults who might serve as role models who contribute to their communities and the world? Do I use these adults as examples to encourage my child to be the best he can be?
February is host to Random Acts of Kindness Week. For more information and ideas on contribution visit the Random Acts of Kindness website.
Next time we will continue to explore Dr. Ginsburg’s seven “C’s” of resiliency and discuss coping.
For more information visit the Fostering Resilience website or check out the book Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings by Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg.