Raising Global Citizens: The Tween Years

Global_-_PassportsThe Tween years are perhaps the most volatile and complex years in human development. While the child is at an age in which the focus is on trying to figure out self-identity in relation to others, it can be a phenomenal time to foster global awareness.

By now, your not-so-little-one will have developed a sense of intentionality. By that, I mean the ability to generate an idea they wish to pursue and the capacity to act with focus and persistence in order to make it happen. They can look into the future and understand the effects of their actions. Thus, it is a ripe age for pushing forth toward global awareness.

So, how can you capitalize on your child’s new sense of self in order to engage with the collective global village? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Help them understand global imperatives at their level of comprehension. Thinking about access to clean water, the global hunger crisis and world strife can be daunting for a tween. However, there are plenty of fun, light, and creative ways to raise consciousness in age-appropriate ways. Efforts like Girl Up, a United Nations project to unite young people from all over the world to change policies and raise funds to mitigate world issues, will help your child understand global interconnectedness in a way she can understand it.
2. Understand the power of Social Media and its potential to engage your children in meaningful ways.  Facebook pages such as Grow Global Citizens are a great starting point!  If you feel you’re not ready to open the can of worms that social media can be, check out the advice Tech Savvy Mama has to offer. You’ll find great pointers and there’s even a page on global causes that will help you get on your way.
3. Help them understand the power of their generation!  Global awareness and social entrepreneurship is something any tween can aspire to and pursue. Films like The Revolutionary Optimists, which follows the work of two eleven year olds in Calcutta, will sure inspire your young one to take action. There are plenty of children making a difference in their communities as well. For example, Braeden Quinn is a local boy from Delaware doing his part to end hunger in his community. Do some research together and see you you can support these local efforts.
4. Help them find their voice and make it heard!  Young people have a voice. They are the stakeholders of our future! Help your child understand her power at a young age. KidzVuz offers a safe online platform where kids ages 7-12 can upload videos to share their view on different topics and share them in a safe environment.  Writing letters on behalf of causes that resonate with your child through agencies like Amnesty International or writing to their state representatives to share their view on community and global issues are also great ways to help your child gain social consciousness and take a stand.
5. Help them find a cause! Youngsters look for motivation and inspiration in order to engage in meaningful ways in every aspect of their lives. Helping your child find a cause that moves them will inspire them to learn more about global issues and ultimately desire to affect a positive impact on them. Finding opportunities to engage in community efforts to support special causes can be one of the most meaningful family activities you can engage in! Local sports events tied to a specific cause like Philadelphia’s Run Against Hunger offer fun and meaningful ways to act globally at a local level.
The tween years are some of the best years to help your children develop a global perspective. Use this time wisely. It will help your children, and, through their understanding and empathy, it will help the world.
Author Westtown School