Popular Youth Development Articles, by Marilyn Price-Mitchell PhD

Whew! I wrote over fifty articles this year on the topic of positive youth development! 

My articles were accessed by over 50,000 unique readers, tweeted thousands of times, reprinted in more than 20 online publications, and even translated into several languages! I am honored by your support. Thank you!

In addition to my articles at Roots of Action, I write a regular online column for Psychology Today entitled “The Moment of Youth,” about helping teens believe in themselves.  I also write for A Hopeful Sign, an online magazine dedicated to spreading hope through positive living, learning, and leading.

One of the terrific things about being a writer in today’s online environment is the instant feedback from and connection with readers. Statistics on website visitors as well as the numbers of people sharing on Facebook and Twitter show exactly what articles are most popular and relevant. As I absorb your comments and chat with you online, I continue to learn about young people, how they thrive, and how we adults provide the scaffolding for their development.

If you missed these articles or are a new reader, below are links to the three most popular positive youth development posts of 2011 and a few of my most favorite reader comments.

Youth Development: The Most Popular Articles

1)      The Fallacy of Good Grades: Why tests don’t measure your child’s most important strengths. We live in an age obsessed with numbers. But that doesn’t mean we have to teach children to measure their self-worth by grades or test scores.

2)      Mistakes Improve Children’s Learning: Most adults understand that making mistakes is part of life. Yet we pressure our kids to get it right! If they make errors or experience setbacks, parents envision a successful future slipping from grasp. Actually, the opposite is true. Making and learning from mistakes increases positive youth development and improves young people’s outcomes in life.

3)      Smart Kids Face Challenges Too:  Do you have a bright child? Then you probably know that raising intelligent children is not as easy as it might look. Parents can help foster true potential in bright children.

My Favorite Comments

Your comments keep me going every day! Thank you for taking the time to write, to challenge and expand my thinking, to provide links to additional articles, and to share words of appreciation. It is nice to know how many adults are committed to youth development and want to find ways to improve young peoples lives!

In response to The Fallacy of Good Grades, Corinne Gregory wrote:

“I was very happy to come across your article. You are so correct on the ‘intangibles’ that are the foundation of our children’s success — both short- and long-term.

The one thing you didn’t talk about is how important these “soft skills” are to a students’ academic success. Repeated studies decisively show the link between positive social skills development and better academic success. For more on this, I invite you to visit Academics + Social Skills = Better Results where you can also find a link to the study.

I hope that many people will read your article and take it to heart. The goal of an education should be not just to create good students, but also good PEOPLE. I think we’ve lost sight of just how important the ‘intangible’ really is, to personal success as well as the success of the community.

In response to Will Small-Part Fixes Save Public Schools? An anonymous reader wrote:

To truly find what makes for good education the researches would have to focus on the students themselves! After all, we’re trying to find a way to improve education for them, aren’t we? So a very informative research would look at students who made great success in life partly (or mostly) because of their formal education and those that hardly benefited from schools. However before one even begins to do research of any kind you need to answer the question of what is it that you truly want and you aptly said: “What matters most to families and to our democracy is that children develop into caring, productive young adults who critically think about and actively engage in the world around them.”

No reform will work from the outside in, you must focus on the inside – the student – the core – the very person who’s life (or at least education) we’re trying to improve here. You can only find a great teacher if you look at the students – not their grades or their opinion of the teacher – but to simply identify how much of a role has the teacher played in a child’s educational improvement. We’ve all heard some stories about successful graduates who exclaim that they couldn’t have done it without that one or more person.

Image Credit: PhotoStock

Published: December 20, 2011

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