Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Turning the Heart of a Teen

Protecting the Park Trails
Eagle Scout Project
by Linda Shaw
120 Dublin, Ohio Youth recently spent an entire day cleaning a nature preserve. After they were finished they wrote letters to soldiers and made fleece blankets.  Youth who regularly participate and give community service have a greater sense of community connection and a healthier sense of emotional well-being.  “Volunteering and being involved in community service is a great way for teens to develop a sense of inner strength – the “self” that is not reflected by their accomplishments, failures, or family status.” (HealthLine Nancy L. Brown, PhDAdolescent Health) 

Youth Service offers the opportunity for youth to balance their lives. Teenagers generally understand their body's need to eat, sleep, socialize, learn, and even work, but many have not experienced the growth of their spiritual inner-self. Helping your youth develop a strong sense of inner strength through service will help them:
  • ·       Feel good about themselves
  • ·       Form independent opinions
  • ·       Express theses opinions
  • ·       Develop loving attitudes toward others 
  • ·       Discover their creative side
  • ·       Cope with stress
  • ·       Set boundaries
  • ·       Set Goals

In addition to building a strong inner-being, 
Community service offers them opportunity to:
  • ·      Understand a world beyond their own
  • ·      Understand and develop a value system
  • ·      Face personal challenges 
  • ·      Help another in need
  • ·      Make a difference to others and their community 
  •        Find hope in others ability to return the service 
  •        Gain a knowledge of their community services

Research results from a Kaizen, Romania Youth Service Study showed that before involvement only 9.1% of participating youth said they trusted others. After just one year of service this number jumped to 45.5 %. This particular study targeted youth between the ages of 12-18 and included trash clean-ups and education campaigns.  
Other benefits of Youth Service include a reduction in risky behavior, empowerment within the community, increase of knowledge, skill apprenticeship, learning of values, leadership development, and social networking. 

As you consider how to best guide your teen into service activities, you might explore a few of these organizations that require some form of member service for advancement or accreditation. Or if you would rather keep it all in the family, I have also posted a few suggestions for community service. 

Service Organizations: 

Boy Scouts of AmericaGirl Scouts of America, Local Library, Hospitals, 4-H
Youth AngelsHabitat for Humanity Club, Church Youth Groups,  
School Government Groups, Big Brothers Sisters II Lions Heart 

Ideas for service:

Cleaning a park, collecting items for charity such as clothes, food, or furniture, helping a family in need of child care, getting involved with local Food Shelters, cleaning roadside verges, Helping the elderly in nursing homes, helping the local fire or police service, Helping out at a local library, tutoring children with learning disabilities, fundraising for a cause, etc.  
Links for Ideas: 

In today's competitive world, how will your teen find time to give service? 

How important is parental guidance in a teens service opportunity? 



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