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A research-based approach to helping kids

Positive Youth Development (PYD) is a research-based approach to youth programming shown to help children with relationships, engagement and development. At KidSpirit, we like to say it helps kids find their spark.

We put PYD Thriving models into practice through several philosophies:

  • Having a growth mindset highlights the importance of lifelong learning. Embodying a growth mindset means embracing challenges, viewing effort as a path to mastery, practicing persistence, learning from criticism and finding inspiration from the success of others.

  • FISH! is a workplace philosophy that KidSpirit employees are trained in to encourage four key values: being present, finding ways to play, making each person’s day by practicing inclusion and consciously choosing to embody a positive attitude.

  • The bucket theory uses the metaphor of an emotional bucket. Both staff and campers are asked to be mindful about what “fills” their bucket, or gives them joyful energy, and what “empties” their bucket, or takes a toll on their energy.

  • Trauma-informed care practices incorporate the language and insights of mental health care to child care situations in order to make every child’s experience better. This framework especially helps children demonstrating lagging skills, challenging behaviors or unmet needs.

PYD can be used at home, too: When your child makes a mistake, ask them what they learned from the experience that can help them next time. Brainstorm your lists of “bucket-fillers” and “bucket-drainers” alongside your child. You’ll probably get to know — and understand — each other even better than you already do.


Brought to you by:

Karen Swanger is the Director of OSU KidSpirit Oregon 4-H Youth Programs


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