Youth Will Meet Their Needs One Way Or Another Says LSU AgCenter Character Expert

John W. Arceneaux  |  7/15/2005 2:33:45 AM

A sense of belonging is one of the four basic youth needs. It is marked by a positive relationship with a caring adult and an inclusive and safe environment.

2005 Back-to-school News

Youth will meet their needs! Every day youth strive to meet their needs - some in positive ways, some in negative ways, according to LSU AgCenter 4-H character education expert John Arceneaux.

What are these needs? Arceneaux says they are the activities youth pursue to feel whole and secure. In 1999, a team of evaluators was given the charge of determining the critical elements in 4-H experience – the things necessary to meet the needs of youth.

The National 4-H Impact Design Implementation Team identified four categories of needs: belonging, mastery, independence and generosity. Within those needs the team identified various components.

Elements in the belonging category are a positive relationship with a caring adult and an inclusive and safe environment. Elements in the mastery category are an opportunity for mastery and engagement in learning. Elements in the independence category are an opportunity to see oneself as an active participant in the future and the opportunity for self-determination. Elements in the generosity category are having an opportunity to value and practice service to others.

Arceneaux says a youth’s needs will be met in one of three ways: positive, negative or not at all. If met in positive ways, youth develop characteristics in each of the four categories.

In the belonging category, positive characteristics are those of being attached, loving, friendly, social, cooperative, trusting and intimate.

In the mastery category, the youth become achieving, successful, creative, problem-solvers, motivated, persistent and competent.

In the independence category, youth develop confidence, assertiveness, autonomy, responsibility, inner control, self-discipline and leadership.

In the generosity category, they become caring, sharing, loyalty, supportive, pro-social, empathetic and altruistic.

"If youth needs are addressed in negative ways, the results become defining factors for years ahead," the character expert cautions.

In the category of belonging, the desire for attention and acceptance results in a youth becoming overly dependent, promiscuous and more likely to join gangs.

In the mastery category, they become overachievers, arrogant, risk-seekers, cheaters, workaholics and have delinquent skills.

In the independence category, they defy authority, are rebellious, manipulative, bullies, reckless, dictatorial and practice sexual prowess.

In the generosity category, they become over-involved, play the martyr and become co-dependent.

If youth needs are not met, results are not good, Arceneaux says. Youth may retreat or give up.

In the belonging category, they become unattached, guarded, rejecting, lonely, aloof, isolated and distrustful.

In mastery they become non-achievers, avoid risk, fear challenges, are unmotivated and give up easily.

In the independence category they become irresponsible, undisciplined, easily influenced, lack confidence, submissive and sometimes helpless.

In the generosity category, they become selfish, narcissistic, hardened, anti-social and exploitive.

"Every youth should have their needs met in positive ways," Arceneaux asserts, advising parents and other adults to encourage youth to participate in 4-H.

"A youth needs you," he says, adding, "Become a volunteer and make a difference."

Character education materials and services are available to school personnel, parents and concerned citizens from the LSU AgCenter at Click on the 4-H clover and look for the Character Education section.


On the Internet: LSU AgCenter:
On the Internet: Louisiana 4-H Web site:

Source: John Arceneaux (225) 578-2196, or

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