August 12, 2022

The history of International Youth Day started in the year 2000, when the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for the Youth recommended initiating a special day to commemorate children and make world leaders cognizant of the struggles faced by the young. Celebrated every year on August 12, International Youth Day reminds the world that children, like adults, face challenges that hinder their physical and mental health and wellbeing. While the original intent of the holiday is to consider children and teens in political and global matters such as health, education, and employment over time, the holiday has made a push to give recognition to children on a local level as well.

Today, adults are encouraged to give greater attention to children and their needs. One example includes providing extra care and attention to your offspring, nieces, nephews or children you actively mentor. The core principle of the holiday is to understand some of the issues children face and thus actively pursue resolutions to help better prepare children for their future. One issue in particular is low self-esteem. With minimal and no restrictions on social media, children and teens tend to have lesser self-confidence as a result of following the cults of celebrities and brands which actively manipulate the acceptable in outward appearance, behavior and interests. This kind of influence tends to inhibit a child’s development as an independent individual and can frequently lead to another troubling issue: bullying.

In these or other struggles, how might an adult provide positive reinforcement and assist a child through their struggles?

To consider some examples below:

  • Actively take an interest in a topic or hobby they are interested in and explore those interests together.
  • Show you care by asking about how things are going. Be specific; do not just ask about their day. Instead as an example, ask how their classes are. Is there a class they enjoy participating in more than other classes? Why is that the case? Is it because of a teacher, personal aptitude or group of friends?
  • Ask them for help on something you know they are good at; make it a point to acknowledge their input and express your appreciation for their help.
  • Take the time to show them how to do something outside of their comfort zone. Be patient and use positive reinforcement if they do not learn what you are teaching right away.

The above examples may not be a resolution for all issues, but the important thing to note is how to better serve and support children and teens through their issues. By being more engaged, and having constant and candid communication, you are more likely to build trust, learn about their struggles if there are any, and then better understand how to help them. As you consider International Youth Day and taking part in its initiative, keep in mind its core objective: “to guide children and teenagers with thoughtful teaching and attention that nurture their growth as they become adults who will take part in the future of our society”. Not just parents, but teachers, coaches, adult leaders, mentors and tutors are asked to reflect on how to better direct children to be the best version of themselves. Please consider how you can do the same with children or teenagers you know and care for, during International Youth Day!