University of Illinois Extension

Helping Leaders Be 4-H Savvy - University of Illinois Extension

Positive Youth Development Through 4-H Community Clubs

Positive Relationship with a Caring Adult

“We need to make sure that no boy or girl in America is growing up without having in his or her life the presence of a responsible, caring adult. Where else does a child learn how to behave? Where else does a child learn the experiences of the past, the totems and traditions of the past? Where else does a child look for the proper examples except from responsible, caring, loving adults in his or her life?"
--America’s Promise Founding Chairman, General Colin L. Powell

The underlying premise for one of the critical elements in positive youth development – that of a positive relationship with a caring adult - is that youth will develop caring and trusting relationships. Youth and adults should learn together and respect one another. A caring adult, whether he/she is called supporter, friend, or advocate, acts as an advisor, guide or mentor. The adult sets boundaries and expectations for young people.

Adult 4-H volunteers might consider the following questions: In our 4-H club…

Some practices the 4-H club might want to implement, if they are not already being used are:

The Search Institute in its “assets research” suggests that each young person should receive support from three or more non-parent adults. Communities need to provide young people with sustained adult relationships through which they experience support, care, and guidance. Caring and connectedness within and beyond the family are found to be powerful factors in protecting young people from negative behaviors and in encouraging good social skills, responsible values, and positive identity. Every child needs love, affirmation, and acceptance. Parents, extended family members, neighbors, teachers, community leaders, 4-H alums and adults who spend time with youth can all provide positive, caring relationships and can help to ensure that all children have at least three caring adults in their lives.

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