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Many factors can protect youth from risks such as mental health concerns, substance misuse or violence. By focusing our energy on areas that have the most impact, parents, caregivers, faith leaders and employers can set our youth and our community up for success. 

 

Here are West Chester's top community priorities based on data from the PA Youth Survey.

Protective Factors

Small steps that help youth thrive

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Below are some top tips and recommended resources from area prevention specialists and counseling professionals.  To learn more about programs that build resilience and prevent youth risk behavior, check out our program page.

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Family Fun in Field
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Family in Nature

Strong family attachment and meaningful connection with adults are proven to reduce risk for youth.  Many families already incorporate several recommended strategies into daily life.  Find your favorites below and read on for new ideas to bolster your family's strengths.

   

1.

Spend time together.  Activities don't have to be elaborate or expensive.  Just spending time together teaches kids that they are loved and valuable.

Great places for building bonds

2.

Listen.  Parents often strive to fix problems for their kids, when really kids just need to feel heard.  Keep family dynamics healthy by striving to listen more than you speak.

Listening well takes practice.

3.

Model the behavior you want to see in your child.  Whether it's language, health, faith, hard work or dependence on alcohol, kids model what they see in the home.

We can't all be models.  Or can we?

4.

Be clear about your values.  Talk often about the things that are important to you.  No lectures, just casual comments and your kids will soon be coming to you to discuss tough topics. 

Discuss youth behavior in terms of  body and brain health.
  • Discuss behaviors you value plainly.

  • Be clear about consequences.

  • Refain from lectures. Casual comments encourage more dialogue.

  • Consider a Family Contract. 

5.

Find a positive parenting community that supports your healthy communication efforts.

Building Community around our most important work:  parenting.

Book an Appointment with our staff or visit our Programs Page for  opportunities to connect with other parents

Based on local responses to the statewide PA Youth Survey, Commitment to School remains a top priority.  While schools work internally to address this issue, home based strategies can also improve a child's commitment to school which is linked to sound decision making in the teen and young adult years.

 
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Chemistry Students

More top tips and recommended resources from area counseling professionals

1.

Know your role.  Seventy-five percent of teens report parents are the leading influence on their decision making.

You have more influence than you think
  • Demonstrate a love of learning by trying something new.

  • Read to and in front of your children.

2.

Offer meaningful work.  Both in and out of school having work that is meaningful builds a sense of self-worth and inspires kids to want to do more and be more involved.

Chores are a valuable parenting tool.
  • Give age appropriate chores.

  • Make a chore chart for consistency. 

  • Recognize kids contributions out loud.

  • Speak up about the value of the work they do at home and at school.

3.

Praise effort over outcomes.  While there's good reason to recognize success, commenting more often on effort instead of talent has more far reaching effects.  It also builds "grit" to help youth bounce back after adversity. 

Valuing hard work at home reaps rewards in the classroom.
  • Learn how GRIT impacts youth development.

  • Always acknowledge the effort that led to good grades, goals scored or goals achieved.

4.

Forgive yourself and your kids easily.  There is no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect family. Embrace your messiness and your kids will learn to embrace theirs.

Perfection is not the goal.
  • Acknowledge your mistakes aloud to remind kids that no one is perfect.

  • Mention what you learned from it.

  • Let it go.  Move past your mistakes to teach kids that failure is part of learning.

Looking for more? Learn more about programs to support local youth and families or
schedule a 1:1 discussion with CTC staff. 

 
 
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