Recognizing Positive Accomplishments

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Everyone can agree that they want young people to be successful. But once children achieve their goals we may be unsure of how to reward a job well done. Often times, one of the most neglected areas when dealing with young people is the lack of recognition they receive for their accomplishments. Recognition helps youth feel good about what they have accomplished and strengthens their self-esteem. It can also provide closure and satisfaction after completing projects and activities throughout the year. Making young people feel good about their accomplishments helps them remain motivated and encourages them to strive for future successes. Through my personal experiences, I have found that everyone can benefit from some type of recognition. Think of the last time you were recognized for your personal accomplishments. It probably felt pretty good and made you want to duplicate that effort and success in the future. This is part of the positive cycle that can be created when people become aware others are recognizing them for a job well done. If it feels good to us adults, imagine how much more meaningful it must be for someone who is younger and more impressionable.

It is important to keep in mind that the method of recognition does not have to be elaborate or fancy, but it should speak to the participant’s personal interests or reason for striving toward a goal in the first place. Recognition can be as informal as a thank you or a handshake, or more formal like a certificate, plaque, or trophy. Again, this all depends on the reason for recognition, the participants involved, and the resources available.

When working with young people there are usually a number of people involved in their successes. It’s also extremely important to recognize the parents, teachers, and anyone else that has played a role in the youth’s success.

In a few weeks, Lee County 4-H will recognize its’ members at our annual Achievement Night Awards banquet. At the banquet 4-H’ers receive trophies, plaques, medals, and certificates for their projects completed and activities participated in throughout the year. Of course, some members are more active than others, but every single 4-Her receives some type of recognition at the banquet. Parents, volunteers, and local dignitaries attend the banquet and show their support for the young people and all they have accomplished. We are extremely proud of our 4-H members and volunteers and all they contribute to our county, state, and country. Recognizing them for their positive efforts in the community is the least we can do!

Bill Stone is County Extension Director for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.