What is SDS?

Social Development Strategy or SDS, is at the heart of the Communities That Care approach and the work that the SATURN Coalition does. As a part of SATURN’s work we continue to ensure that as we partner with organizations in our community that we are being mindful to incorporate the key components of this strategy to make the most out of these positive opportunities to create meaningful experiences for young people.

The Social Development Strategy is a highly intuitive model that can help us influence our kids behavior.

Breaking down the components of SDS

Opportunities are not just creating an activity or an event in our community to give youth something to do. When we talk about creating an opportunity for a young person we are talking about creating a moment for youth to engage in a community change effort that gives them the sense of belonging/connectedness, provides them leadership skills, and fosters overall mental health well-being.

While its important to provide young people with meaningful opportunities, they need to be balanced with skill mastery. Too much opportunity without skill promotes frustration. Too much skill without enough opportunity results in boredom. When we provide a good match between opportunity and skill we maximize the potential for strong bonds.

  • Be Realistic
  • Start Small
  • Build on Success

Recognition is much more than just handing out a certificate or telling Johnny, “Good Job.” Its taking the time to acknowledge their achievement with their effort, recognizing a young person for their social skills, or for their contributions to school and community.

  • Be Specific and positive
  • Give only one improvement suggestion

Bonding: The SDS suggests that children learn patterns of behavior from their social environments. Children develop strong bonds through 3 processes:

  • perceived and actual opportunities for involvement in activities and interactions with others
  • skills for involvement and interaction;
  • perceived rewards from involvement and interaction

When parents, teachers, friends and community members are consistent, that social bond of attachment and commitment develops between the child and those people and acts as a motivator to follow he beliefs and standards through establishing the youth’s stake in conforming to the norms, values, and behaviors of the family, school, community and peer group.

Points to consider:

  • What families or youth in our community are systematically excluded from opportunities to be involved?
  • What can we do to expand opportunities, skills, and recognition activities to ensure that these families and youth are not systematically excluded?

Healthy and Clear Standards: Shared, clear standards between all domains is important for young people to understand. To have clear, shared standards that are consistently enforced can be a challenge. It is important that as a community we are specific, communicate clearly and often, teach skills needed for young people to follow the standards, monitor adherence and provide consequences (to reinforce the positive and course correct) to establish healthy and clear standards of behavior for young people.