After Sparks Comes Voice

Now the Sparks are lit, what next?

A national survey conducted by the Search Institute – Teen Voice 2009: The Untapped Strengths of Fifteen Year Olds – finds that many young people of this age lack a level of three intertwined concepts that will, when experienced at high levels and combined, will provide young people with the support they need to set and stay positive in this critical time of their development.

We have already looked at “Sparks”; those talents that give teenagers the motivation and joy in life to do well. So now we will look at the second component, The Teen Voice Index (TVI) which measures how much teens think their voices are heard on key issues that matter to them.

So what is most important to teen? The highest priority is having strong friendships, which isn’t surprising but the next highest is: finding purpose and meaning in life. When was the last time a discussion like that was held with the teen closet to you? Less importantly on average, are levels on social issues such as poverty and interracial relations and being seen as a leader or serving their country.

So what does this mean to us? The teens with higher sparks felt more confident in their ability to make social changes but over all young people believe they have little or no ability to make a difference. So a challenge for us as adults is to show young people that they can make a difference and that their actions matter. Sparks and teen voice are connected: Youth with sparks are more confident in making a community impact (having their voice heard) and if we don’t address this, what strengths and energies are we loosing in the process?

Most kids have their parents helping them with growing sparks and developing their voice but those youth who can name their sparks are more likely to get help from people outside of their family in their finding of their voice. They are the ones who will want to make their voices heard and are more likely to do better in school. Giving teens a voice and a sense of their own power to make a difference may be a key to unlocking their potential.

Suggestions to help your teen develop their voice

  • Discuss what’s important top them in the context of their life such as friends nd what they see as their purpose in life shaping up to be
  • Encourage your child to take on a leadership role either in school or in a community group
  • Develop a relationship of cooperation with your teen, support choices made
  • Have a chat about what they want the next elected Prime Minister or President, to deal with on a world and local level.
  • Introduce ideas and concepts they may have yet to become aware of in the world to open up their thinking
  • In all discussions while sharing your ideas, allow them to develop their own

What we do

We understand the importance of helping young people develop their voice. The Dream Initiative encourages this though our workshops which have open communication about what is important to young people while offering tools to further enhance their skills on the journey to adulthood. Our one on one coaching on the phone with email support is the perfect way to continue to support your teen after the experience of one of our workshops, such as Teen Talk and Love Your Life. We love what we do at The Dream Initiative.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it….”