What It Takes For Children To Flourish In Their Youth
A child is someone under the age of 18 years. Every child must be given the right to life, survival, and development. Children deserve the opportunity to be able to embrace a meaningful life, as we are all unaware of who each child might become tomorrow.
Who is a youth and why do we need to equip children to flourish in their youth?
There’s no universally acceptable definition of who a youth is. The Commonwealth sees a youth as someone between ages 15 to 29 years. The United Nations, for statistical purposes, defines ‘youth’, as those persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years. In other words, a youth is someone in transition from being dependent on parents/guardians to being independent, having gained the wisdom and skills required to make the right choices and decisions.
What’s the population of youths and their condition of living?
Now that we have established who a youth is, let’s consider their population and condition of living. According to a UN report, there are about 1.2 billion young people aged 15 to 24 years, accounting for 16 per cent of the global population. By 2030—the target date for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that make up the 2030 Agenda—the number of youths is projected to have grown by 7 per cent, to nearly 1.3 billion. Nigeria has the largest population of youth in the world, with a median age of 18.1 years. About 70% of the population are under 30, and 42% are under the age of 15.
Millions of young people in Nigeria have a poor quality of life, including a lack of education, low living standards and poor health outcomes. According to UNICEF, Nigeria accounts for 20% of the world’s children who are out of school. In absolute terms, about 10.5 million children, the majority of whom are girls, do not have access to education in Nigeria. And this explains why a 2022 World Bank report says that about 40% of Nigerians live below the national poverty line of $1.90 per day and about 95.2 million are in poverty.
Most of the issues facing Nigeria as a country affect the youth directly or indirectly. A study reveals that jobs do not translate Nigerians’ hard work into an exit from poverty, as most workers are engaged in small-scale household farm and non-farm enterprises; and only about 17 percent of Nigerian workers hold jobs that are able to lift people out of poverty.
It is believed that youths are the true agents of change in a society. Youth can be a positive force for development when provided with the knowledge and opportunities they need to flourish.
What does it mean to flourish in one’s youth?
Let’s begin this section reflecting on some questions.
- What does it mean to flourish in life?
- How would you know when a youth is flourishing?
- Is it when they graduate from the university, get a job, and start giving their parents stipends?
- Is it when they start raising a family of their own?
- Is it when they become Pastors of churches or CEOs of multinational corporations?
- What does flourishing mean to you?
To flourish is to grow well: to be healthy; to be very successful, to do very well. “May our sons flourish in their youth like well-nurtured plants. May our daughters be like graceful pillars, carved to beautify a palace.”
The holy Bible likened flourishing to the palm tree and the cedars of Lebanon that still produces fruit in old age and remained vital and green. “But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.”
Some Fascinating facts about the palm tree and cedars of Lebanon:
- Palm trees stand tall.
- The palm tree represents life.
- The cedar of Lebanon is resilient against diseases and parasites.
- The cedar of Lebanon doesn’t flower before the age of 30 (in other words, it blooms in its youth.)
You can tell if a tree is flourishing or not. A flourishing tree is provided with the right soil, water, and sun. A flourishing tree grows tall and strong. Its root grows deep, its branches spread wide, its trunks are thicker, its leaves are green, and its seeds or fruits come in at the right time. When a tree is not flourishing, you will also be able to tell. You’ll know when a tree is dead or close to dead. This means flourishing is an action verb. It’s a fact, not a feeling. According to Boris Godin, we flourish when we grow and thrive. We flourish when we exercise our powers. We flourish when we become what we are capable of becoming.Although people are more complex than trees, and it can be more difficult to tell if a person is flourishing or not. The basic idea of flourishing, however, remains the same.
What it takes for a child to flourish in her youth
Just like the tree, a child needs an enabling environment to flourish. While raising children, everything matters. The child’s wellbeing matters. The child’s mindset matters. The will, and the mind to flourish must be intentionally nurtured in the child. The fact remains that the situation in Nigeria will make it impossible for the Nigerian youth to flourish without a trained mindset from a young age. The Commonwealth sees young people aged 15 to 29 as assets to a country’s development who should be empowered to realise their potential.
According to Dr. Seligman, flourishing encompasses five aspects he termed the PERMA model. These are: positive emotions, engagements, relationships, meaning, and accomplishments. In other words, flourishing according to the “father” of positive psychology is the state we create when we live by the PERMA model. According to the PERMA model, flourishing is the state that we create when we increase our positive emotions, engage with the world and our work (or hobbies), develop deep and meaningful relationships, find meaning and purpose in our lives, and achieve our goals through cultivating and applying our strengths and talents.
It goes to say therefore, that for children to flourish in their youths, 3 things must take place:
- Their minds must be trained to discover what brings about fulfilment in life,
- They must willingly cultivate the habit of doing meaningful and worthwhile tasks,
- They must develop the will to connect with God and their families at a deeper level and build meaningful friendships.
Do these 3 things just happen? Absolutely not, it takes some form of handholding. And that is exactly what Dedavella Life Coaching Services is committed to helping working parents to achieve. At Dedavella Life Coaching Services, we inspire zeal for a happier childhood while holding space for preteens & teens to express themselves and at the same time get equipped for life – improved sense of wellbeing, social competence, and communication skills. Dedavella Life Coaching Services is an edtech firm with a focus on promoting children’s wellbeing to bridge the gap between academic and practical skills for the future workforce, society, and families. We join hands with the working mom and institutions in ensuring that children do not miss out on the opportunity of becoming successful in life through afterschool hours and weekend life coaching programs. The programs are for ages 9-12 & 13-16 years respectively, virtually or in person, by themselves or in small groups. We are happy to partner with you to promote the wellbeing of children in Nigeria so that they can flourish in their youth.
 Psalms 144:12
 Psalms 92:12-13 NLT
 Adapted from What is Flourishing by Courtney Ackerman