The Four Keys to Helping At-Risk Kids

February 21, 2017

Just as there are many ways to prepare excellent breads, stews, and soups, there is no one single formula for reducing risk in the lives of young people. Nevertheless, there are some core principles which are nearly universally agreed upon when it comes to the process of helping at-risk children. Maurice J. Elias, Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University, details four keys which he has complied based on stories and experiences others have shared with him over the years at the George Lucas Educational Foundation blog.

The first of these keys is developing caring and sustained relationships with young people who are at risk. The real key word here is “sustained,” as this is crucial for the child to develop a strong level of trust. Teachers, along with other people with temporary influence in the child’s life, most often are very caring but are not likely to be able to maintain a relationship with the child due to the nature and demands of their position, always having a new group of children to mentor as time goes on. Trust must be earned by those who seek to provide help for these children in need by developing a strong ongoing relationship.

It is important to set reachable goals for at-risk children. Goals that are most likely to continually motivate a young person are those which are within reach for the student with some effort. Only a person who knows the student very well and deeply cares about the well-being of the child will have the ability to assist them to form attainable goals.

Realistic and hopeful pathways are the third key mentioned by Elias. In a similar manner to how online map and GPS tools help us reach our destinations by providing the proper road map, students from an at-risk background need help from caring adults to determine pathways that are realistic to reach their goals. Having guardrails is important as a framework, but it is also important to let the child know that straying from the path temporarily should not destroy the dream of reaching the ultimate goal.

Engaging school and community settings, both in school and after school, can be vital for the child to be able to develop positive relationships not only with caring adults but also their peers. When students are provided with opportunities for recognition and where they can make contributions which are positive, it helps them to experience a true sense of pride and belonging.

Read the full article here: Visit our website today to learn how we at Casa Pacifica can help your child to develop positive strategies to help make their dreams come true:

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