Growing Healthy Canadians:
A Framework for Positive Child Development
Coming of Age
Adolescents who make a healthy transition to adulthood are ...
Prepared for work
Research indicates that the most important factor in
obtaining a good job is staying in school. Work experience and learning generic
work-related skills (such as problem-solving and how to work in teams) may also help
students choose a career and find a job.
Prepared for intimacy and family life
Young people who have positive self-esteem, a stable sense of
identity, good decision-making skills, independence and a sense of emotional commitment
are most successful in intimate relationships. As young people mature, they develop the
ability to see things from another person's point of view.
Prepared to participate in community life
Young people who are involved in leadership and community
service activities are more likely to learn the civic and social skills they need to be
fully contributing members of the community as adults.
Prepared to manage their personal health and well-being
Young people moving into adulthood must know how to look
after themselves and how to deal with stress in ways that do not involve alcohol or drug
misuse. During this transition, young people learn how to deal with the multiple roles of
income earner, parent, partner and home manager.
Helping You Helps Me
Research suggests that older adolescents who have
opportunities to help others make major developmental gains themselves. Community service
and volunteer work give youth the opportunity to develop meaningful roles, to apply
academic learning in real-life situations, to learn job skills such as cooperation and
decision-making, to develop self-respect and to earn the respect of the community.
Community and school programs can help teens learn to work with younger children and
vulnerable adults, and to serve as peer mentors or counsellors. Teens who participate in
these programs have enhanced social skills and self-understanding, as well as an increased
sense of making a contribution in other people's lives.
What Influences the Developmental
Period from Adolescence to Adulthood?
In addition to gender and culture, the following factors have a major influence on the transition period from adolescence to adulthood:
Parents and other significant adults who value education and
stay involved in a child's schooling have a major influence on a young person's decision
to stay in school. Supportive schools that have high but achievable standards and provide
early interventions with learning and/or social problems help young people succeed in
school. Involved workplaces and communities, and the removal of financial and social
barriers to higher education are especially important for students from low-income
families, isolated regions and diverse cultures.
Opportunities to Work and Learn Work-Related Skills
Cooperative education, apprenticeship programs and school
curriculums that teach work-related skills such as teamwork and problem-solving can help
young people make a smoother transition from school to work. While many adolescents
benefit from a part-time job, it is important that they maintain a healthy balance of time
spent on work, educational and social activities.
The Development of an Integrated, Stable Sense of Identity
Adolescence is characterized by a (sometimes troubled) search
for identity. As young people reach adulthood, a more stable sense of self emerges.
Gender, culture and sexual preference are important influences on identity formation.
Environments that break down stereotypes and foster equity, tolerance and diversity
support the development of positive self-identities in young people.
Positive Relationships and Support from Significant Others
Positive relationships with peers, family members and other
adults prepare young people for intimacy and family life. As young people grow older,
significant others outside the home can play an increasingly important role in mentoring,
role modelling and providing support.
Opportunities to Learn Civic Skills
Strong, healthy communities foster close ties among youth,
parents and schools, governments, community organizations, and workplaces. Voluntary work
and leadership experiences give young people a meaningful place in the community and help
them develop skills and self-worth.
Capacity for Self-Care
Young people need to learn how to make healthy lifestyle
choices related to eating, exercise, sexuality, health care and the use of alcohol,
tobacco and other drugs. As young people go through adolescence,
peers and significant adults outside the family increasingly influence their lifestyle
choices and coping strategies.
Healthy Learning, Living and Working Environments
Safe living and learning environments and places for teens to
socialize promote positive social engagement and healthy choices. Crowded housing,
neighbourhoods where there is a lot of drug dealing, isolated living conditions with
little to do, and threatening school environments contribute to increased violence, youth
misuse of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, and increased feelings of alienation and
Media is a powerful transmitter of culture, learning and
values. 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
How Can We Help Young People Make
a Successful Transition to Adulthood?
When governments, businesses, schools, communities, families and youth work together, young people have the best chance of making a successful transition to adulthood.
What can Families Do?
What Can Communities Do?
What Can Schools Do?
What Can Workplaces Do?
What Can Governments Do?
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