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 Providing Support and Sharing Power:
- Encourage: praise my efforts, not just my accomplishments.
- Guide: provide practical help and feedback to help me learn.
- Model: be an example I can learn from and admire.
- Advocate: stand up for me when I need it.
- Respect: take me seriously and treat me fairly.
- Negotiate: give me a voice in making decisions that affect me.
- Respond: understand and adjust to my needs, interests, and abilities.
- Collaborate: work with me to accomplish goals and solve problems.
Stay tuned next week to learn more about ways to Expand Possibility.