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developing a positive self-concept

developing a positive self-concept

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Published by: turtle6 on Nov 29, 2010
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Section IV: Understanding Youth and Their Needs417
 Leader Training Series
One of the major life-skills that are developed through the4-H Program is “Developing A Positive Self-Concept.”As a 4-H Volunteer, you have many opportunities to make apositive impact on each 4-H member’s self concept. Everyimportant adult in a child’s life influences his/her belief in his/herown value to others and to him/herself. This includes parents,teachers, 4-H leaders, grandparents, older brothers and sisters,youth leaders and religious leaders.What is a positive self-concept? It is a growing belief aboutyourself that helps you to cope successfully with the events inyour life, and then to make a positive impact on the lives of others.As a 4-H youth leader, your attitude of non-judgmental,acceptance toward each child is essential. This helps each mem-ber feel accepted as the person he/she is, rather than for behavior,clothes or skills. One way to do this is to show genuine apprecia-tion for each individual. If you aren’t genuine, a child will knowit right away.
—Genuine appreciation is also positive feedback.Although we would like to be able to only give positive feedback,part of being an adult role model for youth includes makingcorrections. You are probably asking, “How can I make correc-tions constructively?”Since each child is unique and already has a self-concept inthe process of development, you cannot guarantee how a childwill accept correction. Experts recommend that all feedback include at least 75 percent positive comments as you make acorrection to keep things in balance. A division of 50/50 positivecomments to criticism doesn’t work. Your 4-H members mayfeel unworthy unless you use the 75/25 balance.
DeDeDeDeDeveloping aveloping aveloping aveloping aveloping aPPPPPositiveositiveositiveositiveositiveSelf-ConceptSelf-ConceptSelf-ConceptSelf-ConceptSelf-Concept
Written by: Rose Mary Bergmann,County 4-H Agent, Morris County and Sylvia Ridlin, Extension Spe-cialist in Human Development,1990, Revised 2000 
HoHoHoHoHow Do I Help 4-Hw Do I Help 4-Hw Do I Help 4-Hw Do I Help 4-Hw Do I Help 4-HMemberMemberMemberMemberMembers Des Des Des Des Develop avelop avelop avelop avelop aPPPPPositive Self-Concept?ositive Self-Concept?ositive Self-Concept?ositive Self-Concept?ositive Self-Concept?
418Section IV: Understanding Youth and Their Needs
For example, “You have done an excellent job on this recordbook. Your handwriting is neat, you have reported all of yourexpenses, and your story follows the guidelines. However, youdid not include the number of 4-H meetings you attended. Nextyear, you might want to keep a tally on your 4-H calendar so youcan fill in this part of your record book easily.”
Expressing AcceptanceExpressing AcceptanceExpressing AcceptanceExpressing AcceptanceExpressing Acceptance
—You can help express acceptanceby seeing beyond a behavior to the true self within each 4-H’er.One technique that may help youth discover their uniqueness is todistribute 3x5 cards, at the end of each meeting, and ask them tolist the things they liked about themselves during the meeting.You could also invite your members to list what they learned andencourage them to discover things that were not part of the “les-son plan.” There should be no right answers to match, but allthings learned should be encouraged so each person can discoverthe variety of learnings that take place in a group.
Nonjudgmental AttitudeNonjudgmental AttitudeNonjudgmental AttitudeNonjudgmental AttitudeNonjudgmental Attitude
—Your attitude to each 4-H mem-ber will be obvious to the children. Even though adults havelearned how to say one thing and do another, children often seethrough this immediately. So it is important to be honest withinyourself as you notice your relationship with each youth. Havingand expressing a non-judgmental attitude is an important part of helping youth develop a positive self-concept.Within the group setting you can help the members removetheir judgments from situations by demonstrating neutral behav-ior. When a person in the group shares an experience, feeling, ora thought, the leader accepts it as the true expression of thatperson at that moment. For example, if a youngster says he couldnot bring his record book because his parents wouldn’t let him,the leader and members don’t attack him with, “You’re lying.That’s not true. You just forgot it.” Instead, the leader sets apositive example by saying, “Okay. Let’s work together with yourparents so you can bring it to the next meeting.”
- By listening to a child and treating them withrespect, you are in turn facilitating self-respect. Not only shouldyou give all children a chance to speak, you should listen to themattentively and acknowledge what they are saying. You shouldspeak to children as you would speak to an adult and listen tothem as you would an adult.
Section IV: Understanding Youth and Their Needs419
—Adults, who communicate to youth a sense of caringand a sense of personal worth, help to increase each personspositive self-concept. You can do this by creating an environmentof mutual support and caring. As the club leader, you can gentlyhelp every member have a chance to share his thoughts with thegroup so the most talkative person doesn’t overshadow a morequiet personality.Fairness is also very important in establishing self-respect andself-acceptance. Children are very aware of whether a leader isfair or not. The rules you establish should apply to all children,not just the ones you feel are least favorable.You will have reached this goal when the members trust oneanother and the leader enough to be at ease when expressing theirfeelings openly, and know they will not be ridiculed. This atmo-sphere of trust and acceptance will help young people recognizethat they are valued and can count on receiving genuine affectionand support.How you think and feel about yourself, your self-image islearned. This began at birth, with your parents and other caregivers. They gave you verbal and non-verbal feedback on yourbehavior. Other persons in your environment, and the nature of the community itself, also contribute to self-concept.These experiences with the important people in your life, helpdetermine whether you will feel acceptable or not valued.Some people will give you the message that, although you mayat times behave in unacceptable ways, you are basically an okayperson. Others may give a negative message: “You are bad becauseyou do bad things.” Either of these messages, given over and overas you grow up, influence how you see yourself. By the time achild reaches school age, the self-concept is quite developed.Although the early influences have a significant impact, it ispossible to change self-concept. You, as a youth volunteer, canbe part of the gradual process of building a positive self-conceptfor youth, as well as for yourself.Genuinely confident people know they can handle whateverchallenges life brings their way. They are willing to learn and are
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