When one hears the phrase “Personal Power”, many different images might come to mind. Superman, in his mighty cape perhaps? Maybe the action heroes from Marvel comic books or a well dressed business CEO? Is it a toddler having a temper tantrum, attempting to gain some power?

The Personal Power asset considers the character building qualities of personal responsibility, responsible choice-making, self-control, initiative, respect for self and others, honesty, kindness and compassion. The Clinton teens who have responded that they feel that they have this asset feel that they have some control over the things that happen to them in their lives.

51% of last years’ 7th and 8th graders responded that they felt that they had some control over their lives and the things that happen to them in the last Clinton student survey. This is slightly higher than average nationally, which is 45%.

Personal power may not be something that we would typically sit down and talk to our children about. It is not as obvious as peer pressure or decision making, but it is an important part of a young person’s development and esteem. A child that feels that they have no control, are the victim of their life, or is unable to make choices will likely grow up depressed or anxious, and hopeless. Additionally, positive and healthy development also depends upon a child’s ability to accept responsibility when things DO go wrong as a result of their actions. Accepting consequences is part of becoming an adult, and young people should not always be shielded from such situations.

Its important to take responsibility and correct our behavior when things go wrong because of our choices, and also see that bad things can happen to us when we are not at fault. When we fail, we need to realize that we all make mistakes and we are all learning. When bad things happen beyond our control, we need to recognize that we’re in a difficult situation and not at fault.

Here are some questions to consider when talking with your child about personal power:
When is it easier to feel you have control in life? When bad things happen or good things? Why?
How does society teach us to interpret positive events? Negative?
Do you think some people have more personal power than others? Why?
When bad things happen, do you usually feel you have some choice and power to deal with it? Why or why not?
How do our emotional responses to events in our lives lead to blaming or acceptance of responsibility?
How is being kind to others a demonstration of personal power?