Building boundaries, expectations assets

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Tips for building assets

Anyone can build these assets that help youth learn how to be responsible, respectful and contributing members of society.

- Ages birth to 2: Distract babies from inappropriate behavior and draw attention to how you want them to act. Affirm toddlers when they act appropriately.

- Ages 3 to 5: Stay calm when children act out in highly emotional ways.

- Ages 6 to 11: Be firm about boundaries that keep kids safe- don't negotiate.

- Ages 12 to 15: Negotiate new boundaries as youths grow older. When teens are included in establishing rules about appropriate behavior and consequences, arguments over rules and punishments end. Ask where teens are going and who they'll be with.

- Ages 16 to 18: Help teens think about their future goals and what kinds of boundaries they'll need to meet them. Challenge teens to learn through school and other activities.

Ask local youth-serving agencies what they do daily to build assets in our community.

Boundaries, expectations

These five assets are external assets. Youths need to know what's expected of them and whether behaviors are "in" or "out" of bounds.

- #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.

Visit www.search-instit... for a complete list of the 40 Developmental Assets.

— Last fall, more than 100 parents and early childhood educators attended First Impressions of Routt County's Parenting and Pizza class. The class focused on "Love and Logic," a parenting technique that engages parents in setting clear limits with logical consequences, such as not running homework to school when it was the child's responsibility to pack it.

Stephanie Howle, early childhood manager for First Impressions, hopes for the same turnout for an April 8 presentation focused on "Effective Parenting Techniques." Howle indicates the need to "support parents in their most important role, being a parent before being a friend."

Boundaries and expectations for youths are reinforced by parents and by other adult role models such as teachers, bus drivers and employers. In short, anyone can be a role model to youths.

Darby Dale-Burger, an educator and mother of six, nominates John Aragon, coach of the Steamboat Springs High School boys and girls tennis teams, as a "rare individual who commands respect by example and has no problem with follow-through when an athlete crosses his boundaries."

Aragon expects three things of himself and his athletes: treat everyone with respect, make the right choice/do the right thing, and always try your hardest at everything you do. At a doubles tennis match during a state competition, an athlete was not speaking respectfully to his doubles partner. Aragon did not let the boys play, disciplined them in front of their parents and the opposition and docked his own team a point.

"John picked the right thing over winning," Dale-Burger said. "Truly an inspiration. Aragon is secure in his convictions and wants the best out of each individual. Young people who know John give their all to live up to his expectations for them as an athlete and person."

The Boundaries and Expectations Assets focus on young people's limits as well as what is expected of them. The 2005 Search Institute's Profile of Our Youth survey reveals the following percentage of Steamboat Springs High School students possess each of these assets: Family Boundaries, 44 percent; School Boundaries, 31 percent; Adult Role Models, 21 percent; Positive Peer Influence, 40 percent; High Expectations, 40 percent.

SSHS students have an average of 16.9 of the 40 Assets. Youths with the most assets are better prepared for a successful life.

Limits and consequences play a critical role in youth development. By offering young people only support and empowerment, we short-change them. Youths need and want boundaries and expectations, although they may not necessarily agree with them and will test their limits. Setting limits, encouraging responsible decision making, providing clear and consistent standards and being positive adult role models are essential for raising mature, competent young adults.

If you know of an asset builder in our community who deserves to be highlighted, call Grand Futures Prevention Coalition at 879-6188 or the Yampa Valley Community Foundation at 879-8632.

The Youth Wellness Initiative is a collaboration between Grand Futures Prevention Coalition, the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, the Northwest CO Community Health Project, the city of Steamboat Springs, and the Steamboat Springs School District.

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