Promoting Youth Well-Being

We all share a responsibility to ensure that children have the opportunity to reach their full potential. All families and children in every community need support at some point in their lives. 


Five protective and promotive factors work to both buffer children, teenagers and young adults against the impact of negative life experiences and promote healthy development and well-being for all youth. Focusing on building these factors emphasizes the healthy experiences and activities that young people need to thrive in all areas of life.

Developed by the Center for the Study of Social Policy, Youth Thrive is a research-informed approach to:

  • promote healthy development and well-being for youth between the ages of 9 and 26,
  • support healing from negative life experiences and 
  • prepare children, teenagers and young adults for adulthood by building on their strengths.

Youth Thrive

Strong communities are built by supporting people across their lifespan, including during adolescence. By actively building promotive factors with youth, we are ensuring that the next generation of parents has the foundations that create great childhoods.

Missy Berglund

Senior Education Program Manager, Illuminate Colorado

Return on Investment

Investing in proven strategies to help young people thrive makes good economic sense. According to the Centers for Disease Control, adverse childhood experiences cost hundreds of billions of dollars in economic and social costs to families, organizations and communities.

Protective and Promotive Factors Help Young People Thrive

When parents, family, friends, neighbors and teachers increase these five protective and promotive factors in the lives of young people, that is when we help young people thrive as they journey into adulthood–not only promoting their own well-being, but also building better childhoods for kids in generations to come. 

Proven to Promote Adolescent Well-Being

Research has shown the five Protective and Promotive Factors have the power to help young people heal from adverse childhood experiences and help children, teenagers and young adults thrive.

Build Youth Resilience

Resilience is built by managing stress and functioning well when faced with stressors, challenges or adversity and by building on individual characteristics, strengths and interests.

Tips for Parents

Every child experiences stress, and learning to manage stress appropriately is an important part of developing skills and resources that prepare children for adulthood. Don’t forget to build your own parental resilience too.


Tips for Other Adults Who Support Youth

  • Share a mindfulness or stress management tip.
  • Identify and celebrate moments when a young person draws on their inner strength.
  • Encourage youth to make, achieve, and work towards their own goals.
  • Be a role model for learning from challenges and failure.

Build Social Connections

Positive relationships with people, institutions, the community, and a force greater than oneself keep young people strong by promoting a sense of trust, belonging and that one matters. 

Tips for Parents

Young people need trusting relationships with caring, supportive adults. You can be this person for a young person in your life by:

  • listening in a non-judgmental manner,
  • providing emotional, practical and educational support and
  • by encouraging children to form these kinds of relationships with peers and others in the community.



Tips for Other Adults Who Support Youth

  • Listen to a child in a non-judgmental manner.
  • Offer guidance, advice, and problem-solving help when appropriate.
  • Show trust, respect, and appreciation for the children in your life.
  • Engage kids in school, religious communities, recreational facilities, etc. in safe and equitable ways.

Build Knowledge of Adolescent Development

When young people and the parents and adults in their lives understand and talk about topics like brain development, puberty, responsible sexual behavior, money management and cultural and social environments, kids and young adults can more easily transition into adulthood with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.

Tips for Parents

Parenting is hard, but taking the time to learn about and discuss adolescent development with your kids can make things easier for everyone. Talking about the changes taking place in their brain during adolescence can build their executive functioning skills and promote emotional regulation, impulse control and healthy decision making.


Tips for Other Adults Who Support Youth

  • Respect and support a parent’s decision to have sensitive conversations with their kids.
  • Offer to role play a challenging conversation between a parent and a child.
  • Be a trusted and knowledgeable adult when a child, teenager or young adult comes to you to talk about adolescent development.

Build Concrete Support in Times of Need

When young people understand the importance of asking for help and how to advocate for themselves, they can access concrete supports in their community that help minimize stress caused by challenges and promote healthy development. ​  

Tips for Parents

We all need support at some point in our lives. As a parent, know that there are concrete supports available in your community to support you in your parenting journey. Modeling asking for and receiving support when you need it is a valuable lesson for your children to be prepared to do the same. 


Tips for Other Adults Who Support Youth

  • Normalize asking for help when you need it for the young people in your life.
  • Know what services are available for adolescents in your area.
  • Treat children and adults respectfully when providing help and support.

Build Social and Emotional Competence of Children

Interactions with adults help young people build their ability to communicate clearly, recognize and regulate their emotions and establish and maintain relationships well into adulthood. 

Tips for Parents

During adolescence, young people are tasked with identifying and defining who they are. This can feel scary. Often their emotions reflect the chaos of this developmental stage. Normalizing their emotions and the stages relationships go through can help adolescents develop insights and continue to build social emotional competence so they can manage their emotions and build healthy relationships with their peers and supportive adults. 


Tips for Other Adults Who Support Youth

  • Respond warmly and consistently to children and adolescents.
  • Allow young people to express their emotions.
  • Model how to be kind and interact positively with others.
  • Invest in practices, policies and services that promote the healthy development of young people.

Help Strengthen Families & Communities

We all share a responsibility to ensure that children have the opportunity to reach their full potential. 


Learn About Our Work

Our children are our future employees, leaders and neighbors. No matter where they live, children need high-quality experiences and loving relationships to support healthy development.

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