Growing Healthy Canadians:
A Framework for Positive Child Development
Children who make a healthy transition to adolescence are developing ...
A secure and integrated self-identity
Young people with secure and integrated self-identities have
positive self-esteem--they feel valued and worthwhile. They have a sense of belonging and
being part of their culture and community. They are adjusting to the physical and sexual
changes of puberty and have a growing sense of independence and personal power.
Strong social skills
As children move into the teen years, they expand their
relationships with family members, peers and people in the broader community. Young people
with strong social skills can communicate their ideas and feelings. They resolve conflicts
peacefully, without aggressive or antisocial behaviour. They can protect their interests
and are sensitive to the needs of others.
A commitment to learning and participating in school
Young people who are committed to learning are motivated to
participate in school and have learned how to learn. They have the opportunities they need
to develop self-discipline and the intellectual and life skills required for a successful
transition to adolescence.
The ability to make healthy choices
During the preteen and early adolescent years, young people
experiment and make important decisions related to sexuality and the use of alcohol,
tobacco and other drugs. Teenagers who have effective personal values and the ability to
resist peer and social pressures are most likely to make healthy choices.
Adaptable teens are learning to be resilient--the ability to
adapt and cope despite adversity. Adaptable young people have problem-solving and stress
management skills, and a positive view of their personal future.
Who Am I?
Like all other stages of child development, a
healthy transition to adolescence depends to a large extent on past experiences. But other
factors exert a great deal of influence, including gender, culture and the physical,
emotional and sexual changes that accompany puberty.
Children who mature earlier or later than their friends may feel awkward with their peers. Adolescents growing up in immigrant, refugee and Aboriginal families may experience a crisis in identity due to a lack of continuity with past traditions. Adolescent girls are more likely than boys to have lower levels of self-esteem and to exhibit emotional distress. Boys are more likely than girls to be physically aggressive and to drop out or be expelled from school.
What Influences a Healthy Transition to Adolescence?
In addition to gender and culture, a healthy transition
to adolescence is greatly influenced by:
The support, interest and involvement of parents is
particularly important to children in the school-age years. Families that provide
affection, respect, challenge, opportunities for success and freedom to make choices
within clearly defined limits, help children develop a sense of responsibility and
feelings of self-worth.
Support of Significant Others
Teachers, older adolescents, adult leaders (for example,
coaches, Scout or Girl Guide leaders, activity instructors), spiritual leaders, older
citizens and adults from workplaces and unions can have a positive influence on a young
person's developmental needs. So can extended family members, such as aunts and uncles,
grandmothers and grandfathers. When caring adults or older peers form a stable, supportive
bond with children, it is often called mentoring.
School and Community Support
Young people respond best to schools and communities that
have high but achievable expectations and provide meaningful opportunities for them to
participate in decisions and activities that affect their lives.
Media is a powerful transmitter of culture, learning and
values. It has an increasing influence on children as they grow--both positively and
negatively. Young people need to develop media awareness skills that allow them to
critically analyze media messages and images, especially those that glamorize violence,
unrealistic body shapes, stereotyping, discrimination, smoking, drinking, drug use and
unhealthy sexual behaviours.
Helping Children Grow Into
When governments, businesses, schools, communities, families and young people work together, children have the best chance of making a successful transition to adolescence.
What Can Families Do?
What Can Communities Do?
What Can Schools Do?
What Can Workplaces Do?
What Can Governments Do?
Social Engagement and Healthy Child
Social engagement refers to a child's relationships and
involvement with other family members, peers, community members, local institutions and
the broader community. Stable, supportive relationships with all of these individuals and
groups are important to the healthy development of children and youth. As children grow
into adolescence, the quality of their relationships with peers, teachers and community
members becomes increasingly important. Research shows that helping children learn
prosocial skills such as interpersonal problem-solving in school and community settings
equips them with strategies for resisting stress and an enhanced ability to get along with
This fact sheet was developed by the Promotion and Prevention Task Force of the Sparrow Lake Alliance and the Strategic Funding Task Group of the Funders Alliance for Children, Youth and Families as part of their work on a Framework for Positive Child Development. It was written and produced by The Alder Group Inc. For more information, please see the web site for this project: http://childdev.web.net