High self-esteem is the foundation for a positive future

This is the eighth in a series of posts that take a closer look at the developmental assets that are at the foundation of the AstraZeneca Young Health Program: IM40.  The three most recent posts may be found here, here and here.

Today’s post explores “positive identity” as a category of internal assets or those personal values, competencies and experiences that come from within.

What is a positive identity?

“Who am I” is a hallmark question of adolescence, and solidifying identity is a primary task of adolescents says Minneapolis-based Search Institute. When young people sense their own power, purpose, worth, and promise, they can do just about anything they decide to do.

The “positive identity” assets tie in closely with the “support” assets. Young people who feel loved, supported, and nurtured are more apt to feel good about themselves and have a positive view of their future. Young people who have families, neighbors, friends, teachers and others who see the best in them are more likely to bring out the best in themselves and those around them.

The four positive identity assets

The developmental assets framework includes four positive identity assets that indicate how young people feel about who they are and who they are becoming:

  1. Personal Power – Young person feels he or she has control over “things that happen to me.”
  2. Self-Esteem – Young person reports having a high self-esteem.
  3. Sense of Purpose – Young person reports that “my life has a purpose.”
  4. Positive View of Personal Future – Young person is optimistic about her or his personal future.

 Assets in action: Michelle’s story

Through her work directing the youth auxiliary for Zeta Phi Beta Sorority’s Wilmington chapter, AstraZeneca’s Michelle Mack-Williams is helping young women see their potential and empowering them to pursue their dreams.

Ideas for building positive identity

The following tips are courtesy of Search Institute:

  • Notice a young person’s individual talents or sparks and appreciate them.
  • Never pass up an opportunity to be encouraging.
  • Talk about plans for the future: ask a young person where they see themselves in five years and in ten years.
  • Talk about the things that give your life a sense of purpose. Ask a young person what gives his or her life a sense of purpose.
  • When a young person faces a challenge, help her or him think through and act on solutions.
  • Use positive language to influence young people’s perceptions of themselves.

For more information about the Young Health Program: IM40, visit www.im40.org. To connect with other asset builders on Twitter, use #YHP40 or visit us on Facebook.