Teaching youth citizenship - Character Series Part 6

In today’s world, youth need to be engage in their community and in their world. Explore ways parents and caregivers can teach citizenship.

Citizenship can be defined as the duties, rights, conduct and responsibilities of the citizen of a state. As citizens, we should contribute to the overall public good by obeying the law, participating in the democratic process and helping to protect the environment.

To help teens and youth understand this broad concept, we first need to start in the home and in the community where they live. Some strategies from the book “Parenting to Build Character in your Teen” include:

  • Do your share
    Doing your share means to care about and purse the common good. We act as good neighbors; we volunteer to help schools, youth programs and communities to make them better.
  • Play by the rules
    Rules are designed to keep orderliness, economic stability, personal safety and justice. We might not all agree with the rules, but we need to follow them because as citizens there is a bigger obligation than just to ourselves.
  • Respect authority
    Authority serves the greater good of the community by taking on the responsibility of protecting or acting in the best interest of those they serve. Youth and adults need to respect their decisions and actions.

Teaching our youth how to give back to society and make a difference in their community and their world is important. It could be some easy steps like: start recycling at home, talk to them about voting when they come of age, volunteer to plant flowers for the city and teach them how to communicate their opinion on policies in a respectful and professional manner.

Citizenship is the sixth pillar in the Six Pillars of Character, from the framework called CHARACTER COUNTS! created by the Josephson Institute of Ethics. These pillars of character are great tools when talking with youth and adults about character and doing what is right and wrong. The Six Pillars of Character include: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.

Next we will explore ethical decision making.

Michigan 4-H Youth Development Programs help youth develop character through their 4-H projects and experiences. 4-H provides opportunities for youth to strengthen their character through, exhibiting projects, leading groups, participating in events and so much more.

To learn more about how to bring character education into your community, read these articles:

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