Youth Focus

Youth Focus
Six to eight year olds are at a stage developmentally different than many of us may realize. I learned that asking the right questions ormaking a good, solid statement can make a difference.

The main goal is to build and/or maintain self-esteem in all you do when working with youth. Do not overestimate the value of competition. It has limited value in the development of young people. Emphasize growth, trying, improvement over one's own previous performance.

Downplay winning following an event or performance, NOT "Did you win?"BUT:

"Did you see improvement in any part of your performance?" Or a change?

"Did you have a good time?"

"How did you feel?"

"What will you try to do differently next time?"

"Did you support your teammates (and opponents), especially in failure or defeat?"

"Were you and your teammate's good sports?"

Encourage participation in challenging activities that stretch the youngster, but do not force or unduly pressure. Put competition in perspective; prepare the youngster for competition by telling them there will be winners and losers; being a winner or loser says nothing about your worth or value as aperson. It's simply that your competence, achievement, or performance on this occasion was not as good as the other person, and that you will still be accepted, appreciated, and loved.

Strive to keep a balance of success and failure in the young person's life because too much of either can hinder a young person's life. Provide encouragement and take the youngster's reaction seriously. LISTEN � really listen to the youngster and respect their feelings.

My source for this week is Clover buds: A 4-H Discovery Program for Six to Eight Year Olds, Minnesota Extension Service, 1990. Please stop in your local county Extension office for more information.

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