Support groups are proven to be an effective tool, especially for at-risk youth. Kids have a wide range of struggles to contend with today, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only added to their difficulties. Right now, parents, friends and community leaders may be wondering how they can help the young people in their life. According to Youth.gov, children who participate in youth support groups are much more likely to develop strong social skills, self-esteem and a higher level of education. Here are a few specific reasons youth support groups are so essential.
They Provide a Safe Space
It isn’t always easy for young people to open up to adults. Authority figures can be intimidating, and kids may feel that adults don’t understand their perspective. At this point in their lives, it’s crucial for young people to feel heard and supported. In most situations, they will feel more comfortable opening up to kids their own age who may be grappling with the same problems. While a youth leader can certainly help guide the conversation, youth support groups should always encourage kids to communicate with each other openly. If young people feel safe in a welcoming environment, they will be more willing to speak honestly about their emotions.
Kids Can Realize They Aren’t Alone
Think back to being a teenager. No matter what your exact situation was, at some point you probably felt confused, angry, or upset about something beyond your control. More than likely, you didn’t know how to maneuver these complex feelings because you didn’t have the proper tools at your disposal. You might have felt completely alone in these struggles, like you were the only person on the planet having a hard time. To make matters worse, you were afraid to speak about them because you thought you’d be rejected or labeled a certain way. In youth support groups, kids get the chance to share with each other and talk about things they may not voice in classrooms, social gatherings or even at home. These meetings set aside time for young people to become vulnerable. After a few sessions, they’ll begin to see that they aren’t alone with their thoughts and emotions. For kids, this alone can be an enormous relief, especially if they are more isolated now due to the pandemic.
They Encourage Goal-Setting and Problem-Solving
After young people see that others around them are dealing with similar problems, they can begin to brainstorm ways to alleviate these stresses. In addition, they will gain plenty of insight by learning about how other kids cope with their struggles. One simple suggestion or idea could change one individual’s life forever. Let’s say, for instance, that someone in a youth support group mentions that going for regular walks and getting exercise helps them clear their head. Perhaps another individual suggests going for a walk together. During those walks, they talk about college applications and what they both plan to do for the future. Maybe they challenge each other to finish their essays, and as a reward they can go to a movie or a sporting event. From that point on, they develop a friendship built on mutual support and trust. Support group then extends beyond the four walls of the room, helping kids develop vital life skills together.
Learn More about Youth Support Groups with Lead4Life, Inc.
Are you interested in hearing more about youth support groups in your area? Visit our website for more information or contact us at 240-499-8949. At Lead4Life, we strive to empower every participant in our programs so that they may find their purpose, achieve their goals, and become poised, productive members of their community. We advocate for those in need and assist each and every individual by providing compassionate education and valuable resources and tools so that they can make the very best decisions and develop important life, social, and competency skills.