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Friday, October 12, 2007

On the Shelf

FROM RICHARD LERNER, BERGSTROM CHAIR OF APPLIED DEVELOPMENTAL SCIENCE AT TUFTS UNIVERSITY: My new book, The Good Teen, hit the bookshelves on October 9. It supports a new conception of adolescence, based on strengths rather than weaknesses.
A number of things lead to positive youth development: a positive purpose, sustained relationships with caring and competent adults (parents, teachers, mentors, coaches, or faith leaders), and the opportunity to develop life skills and to participate in valued community activities.
Positive development is defined by the five Cs: "competence," "confidence," positive social "connection," "caring," and "character." My research also shows that young people "contribute"–another C—to their own healthy development and to positive changes in their social worlds: They are generous toward themselves (keeping themselves fit and healthy, and less likely to smoke or to be involved in other risky behaviors, such as drinking, drug use, or bullying) and they are generous toward their family and community.
Young people who display these characteristics are more likely to have solid identities and to take actions that reflect the importance of civic engagement and civic contribution.
The Good Teen explains that if parents and other adults follow the ideas I present about how to promote positive development in teens, two things can happen: They can enhance the likelihood that adolescents will thrive and they can reduce the probability that young people will show the risk and problem behaviors that many have long thought are inevitable during this period of life.