The College School

by Stacy Poplos Connor

Kids today are faced with several risk factors and barriers to success. Well before they should have to,
kids are forced to make adult decisions, are exposed to adult content, and grapple with adult problems.
As educators and ultimately as parents, we have the responsibility to empower our youth to become
productive citizens and more importantly, incredible human beings.

How do we do this? I believe it involves an emphasis on 5 key factors/actions.

First and foremost, kids need to believe in themselves. It begins with listening and when we listen to
our kids, they begin to see the heart of effective communication. When they know you value their
voice/perspective, we empower them to listen back.
As they listen back, our influence can take root and a belief is born inside them.

Next, we must develop a positive self-image through respect for the body and healthy decision-making.
Kids must recognize right from wrong, and have to know when to walk away, seek assistance, and/or
take immediate action.
When kids are equipped with this knowledge/confidence, they are empowered to be healthier and to
make the environments they exist within healthier as well.

Kids need to know they have choices. When they have the power to decide and have options, kids are
empowered with trust. When humans trust someone, they engage in deeper levels and take risks.

Speaking of risks, we have to encourage our kids to take them. They must embrace failure as the
number one factor toward sustained growth. Through failure and reflection, we learn and grow.

Lastly, kids must understand that perseverance and grit are necessary to manage and live life. Try, try,
and try again. Kids can be disappointed but cannot become discouraged. The glory is in the struggle.

Kids must be empowered by educators and parents. Educators and parents can empower kids by
listening to them to develop self-belief, foster their self-worth and healthy decision-making, provide
them with choices, allow them to take risks, instill perseverance and grit into their daily approach to life.