Instilling good behavior in children and teenagers often involves a lot of “don’t do that” and calling attention to what a child has done wrong and what they should do next time. When they make the right choice or do a good deed it is often overlooked and nothing said as this is “acceptable” behavior and what is expected. When dealing with children, those who suffer from neglect, abuse, depression and substance abuse, there is often more talk of what they have done wrong and what they need to do than there is praising what they have done right. The “Thumbs Up” campaign sponsored by Alliance for Youth is looking to change that.

“We are constantly putting out ‘don’t’ things. Youth that suffer from neglect, substance abuse and depression seldom get recognized for the positive behaviors they show,” said Alliance for Youth Prevention Specialist Mary Miller. “They are looked upon as youth with little to no value. We want to change that stigma in Toole County. This campaign recognizes kids doing good things, we are promoting the good.”

The Thumbs Up campaign began as a prevention specialist project developed in Hill County to reward positive behavior from children and the community. It lets kids know that positive behavior is recognized and rewarded within the community. 

The way the program works is simple, if you see a child doing something good- helping their mom carry groceries out to the car, entertaining their younger sibling at the park, assisting someone across the street, give them a thumbs up! Participating businesses have the opportunity to reward kids demonstrating good behavior with pens depicting the Thumbs Up logo.

“Thumbs Up campaign pens will be provided to each participating business and those youths displaying good behavior will be given pens,” said Miller. “We have had great community involvement in the development of this campaign and we are excited to see it in use to build self-management, self-esteem and resiliency within our youth of Toole County.”

With the shelter-at-home directive still in effect Miller has been unable to put up the posters promoting and explaining the campaign, but that doesn’t mean the community can’t get started. There’s not a lot of activity taking place, but parents can be giving the “thumbs up” at home or while recreating outside, letting kids know that their good behavior is noticed just as much as the bad.

Another goal of the campaign is to increase the awareness of social, emotional and physical health in a simple manner. This campaign can show kids that even though they often hear what they are doing wrong, what they are doing right is noticed too, thus building their self-resiliency.

“We will be building positive, enduring relationships with youth involved as full partners whose efforts are reinforced by community members,” said Miller. “By supporting and improving social, emotional and physical skills youth will have improved coping skills, increased emotional intelligence and better ability to address and solve their potential social problems.”

With social distancing being a must, the Thumbs Up campaign is the perfect way to let any child know they are doing a great job, their efforts are recognized and appreciated. There’s no need to wait until the posters are up to kick the campaign into gear. The time to start recognizing and showing appreciation for good behavior is now. Whether at home or out and about, if you see a young member of the community doing something good let them know by giving them a thumbs up! 

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