4-H Guiding Principles: Youth develop positive relationships with adults and peers

Explore how to implement the first 4-H guiding principle in 4-H clubs and communities.

Youth and adults working together to learn about insects
Youth and adults working together to learn about insects. Photo by Jan Brinn, MSU Extension.

Michigan 4-H Youth Development has seven Guiding Principles for Positive Youth Development. This is the first installment of a series that explores each of those guiding principles, the first being “Youth develop positive relationships with adults and peers.”

4-H is a unique opportunity among almost all youth organizations for several reasons. First, it is research-based; everything we do is backed by research that demonstrates how to help kids become successful adults. Also, we are the only positive youth development organization that has youth from all genders and all ages in a single club.

The diversity of membership within a club allows for youth to learn from each other. Older youth can set a good example for the younger kids and further increase their learning by teaching those younger than them. Do you provide the opportunities in your club for this kind of interaction?

Youth can also take advantage of 4-H opportunities, such as state level workshops and competitions, fairs and programs like 4-H Capitol Experience and Exploration Days, to meet other young people from all across Michigan. By sharing experiences with people from different places, economic backgrounds and cultures, youth can make better decisions and communicate more effectively with people from all over the world.

4-H also provides opportunities to learn from other adults. While parents are the first educators to their children, research shows that long-term relationships with caring adults are essential for positive youth development.

As a parent, I know I am limited in the variety of knowledge, experience and viewpoints I can provide for my child. 4-H provides a network of leaders and volunteers who can help a young person when they have an issue that their parents might not understand completely. It might be a specific issue, such as how to complete a particular 4-H project, or just another adult who can listen and provide another point of view.

To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth leadership, citizenship and service and global and cultural education programs, read our Impact Report: “Developing Civically Engaged Leaders.” Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways MSU Extension and Michigan 4-H have positively impacted individuals and communities can be downloaded from the MSU Extension website.

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