Search Institute’s study, “Don’t Forget the Families: The Missing Piece in America’s Effort to Help All Children Succeed,” makes the case that strengthening family relationships is a critical strategy for helping children learn and grow up successfully. Their research introduces a framework of developmental relationships, which articulates concrete actions that families can intentionally embrace and consistently practice that help children develop the character strengths they need as they grow up.
Developmental relationships are close connections through which young people develop the character strengths to discover who they are, gain the ability to shape their own lives, and learn how to interact with and contribute to others. These relationships are characterized by five essential actions, each of which is described from the perspective of a young person:
- Express Care: Show that you like me and want the best for me.
- Challenge Growth: Insist that I try to continuously improve.
- Provide Support: Help me complete tasks and achieve goals.
- Share Power: Hear my voice and let me share in making decisions.
- Expand Possibility: Expand my horizons and connect me to opportunities.
Every family has and can build relationships that guide children on a path of self-fulfillment and success in life. All types of families from all kinds of backgrounds can—and do—build developmental relationships.
Here are tips for you to use to help you strengthen these relationships in your family:
Tips for Challenging Growth
- Tell your child about people or ideas that have inspired you….maybe introduce them to the person.
- Talk with your child about the positive things to look forward to in the future.
- Expect your child to do their best, even when it is doing something they don’t like.
- Help your child find their own solutions rather than just telling them what to do.
- Challenge your child to try the hard things.
- Teach your child that making mistakes is a part of learning.
- Praise your child for working hard and sticking with something…even when they don’t get the right answers or win the competition.
- Require your child to take responsibility if they do something wrong…don’t help them make excuses or blame others for wrongdoings.
Stay tuned next week to learn more about ways to Provide Support.