Wish there was a checklist to help my child with success

Every child is different, molded by the adults in their lives from the day they are born. Everyone is a product of the environment in which they grew up, unique because of their life experiences and how they process them. So with all that uniqueness going on, how can parents make sure their kids are getting what they need to succeed?

“Mom, I wish I was like you.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you always knew what you wanted to do when you grew up.”

Mom was confounded to hear that her daughter had no dreams to aspire to. How could this be? Without dreams and goals, how would her children succeed? What else was there? Was there a checklist somewhere to help parents make sure their kids had what they need to achieve?

There is something called 40 Developmental Assets that is utilized in the U.S. to help youth to become caring, productive, responsible adults. A new youth program at Family Recovery Center’s Education Department was developed with the 40 assets in mind. This is an evidence based program to be implemented in five Columbiana County schools to help kids learn the importance of sustaining from drug and alcohol use.

Schools in Columbiana County participate in the Search Institute Survey every two years with 7th, 9th and 10th grade students. The survey focuses on the 40 developmental assets.

“Regardless of economic status or cultural background, studies show that the more internal and external assets an individual possesses, the less likely he or she is to engage in four major patterns of high-risk behaviors: problem alcohol use, illicit drug use, violence and sexual activity,” advises the Drug Free Action Alliance in Columbus. The level of assets predicts whether a child will thrive or not.

The Drug Free Action Alliance explains developmental assets as “supports, strengths and non-cognitive skills youth experience in themselves, their families, their schools and their communities.”

Internal assets include commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies and positive identity. Someone with a high level of internal assets would show qualities like honesty, integrity, caring and sympathetic, responsible, peaceful conflict resolution, sense of purpose and comfortable with people from diverse cultures.

External assets involve support, empowerment, boundaries and expectations and constructive use of time. One strong in these areas has good communication within and support of family, parents who are involved in schooling, clear family boundaries, participates in youth programs and creative activities, says the Alliance. They also are involved in the family’s religious community and feel good about the future they envision for themselves.

Kids need to know someone cares about them, that they are accepted and loved unconditionally with realistic expectations as they grow and learn in positive directions, to care about others. And they need dreams.

Says the alliance, “Children are more likely to succeed when the important adults in their lives encourage and support the 40 developmental assets. They are more likely to do well in school, to be civically engaged, to value diversity and to continue their path of success into adulthood.”

FRC’s education department received grant funding through the Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services Start Talking! Initiative which gives parents, guardians, educators and community leaders the tools to start the conversation with Ohio’s youth about the importance of living healthy, drug-free lives. When FRC applied for the funding, the results of the study were cited to assess the needs to make for a healthier population throughout the community.

It is reported that children of parents who talk to their teens about drugs are 50 percent less likely to use. You can learn more about those 40 assets at www.search-institute.org. To learn more about the Start Talking! initiative visit www.starttalking.ohio.gov. You can sign up for KNOW! Parent Tips. Twice a month you will receive free tips including current facts about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs as well as action steps that can be taken to help children to resist using.

Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related mental health issues. For more information about this topic or the agency, contact FRC at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468, or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. The education department can be contacted at 330-424-0531.