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Relationships First: Creating Connections that Help Young People Thrive

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Relationships First Search Institute
Connections that
Help Young
People Thrive
Eugene Roehlkepartain
Kent Pekel
Amy Syvertsen
Jenna Sethi
Theresa Sullivan
Peter Scales
Image: ©
Relationships First Search Institute
Beyond the cliché
“It’s all about relationships.” That statement has become
a cliché, whether the focus is on parenting, mentoring,
teaching, coaching, raising money for a cause, getting a
job, or nding a partner. And the cliché has research behind
it: We’ve known for decades that high-quality relationships
are essential to young people’s growth, learning, and
thriving—including for those young people who face serious
challenges in their lives and in the world around them. (See
Yet, as many as 40 percent of young people feel lonely.11,26
If we say relationships really matter, how do we make
them a true priority for all young people to experience?
How much do we invest in high-quality relationships in our
families, schools, and youth programs?
Growing evidence suggests that strategically and
systematically investing in building developmental
relationships can be catalytic for effective education,
programs, and services for children, youth, and families.
Researchers Li and Julian wrote:
The effectiveness of child-serving programs,
practices, and policies is determined rst
and foremost by whether they strengthen or
weaken developmental relationships. . . . When
developmental relationships are prevalent,
development is promoted, and when this type of
relationship is not available or diluted, interventions
show limited effects.14
To respond, we rst have to ask: What makes a relationship
“developmental”? In other words, what happens in
relationships that contribute to learning, growing, and
thriving? And how do we start doing something as nebulous
as “improving relationships”?
New insights built on a strong legacy
Search Institute is committed to exploring these questions
with colleagues and partners. This booklet introduces what
we’re learning and provides some starting points for action
by organizations and leaders dedicated to children and
youth. Here’s what you’ll nd:
The Developmental Relationships Framework................3
• One Community’s Snapshot of Developmental
Why Developmental Relationships Matter.......................7
How Developmental Relationships Grow.......................10
• Activating Relationships in Organizations......................12
• 55 Ideas for Deepening One-to-One Relationships.......14
• Imagining Strong and Flexible Webs of Relationships...16
References ....................................................................17
The centrality of relationships
Relationships are at the heart of what
youth need to learn, grow, and thrive.
Resilience: “Whether the burdens
come from the hardships of poverty,
the challenges of parental substance
abuse or serious mental illness, the
stresses of war, the threats of recur-
rent violence or chronic neglect, or a
combination of factors, the single most
common nding is that children who
end up doing well have had at least
one stable and committed relationship
with a supportive parent, caregiver, or
other adult.”
National Scientic Council on the
Developing Child17
Growth: “Supportive relationships are
critical ‘mediums’ of development. They
provide an environment of reinforce-
ment, good modeling, and constructive
feedback for physical, intellectual, and
social growth.”
— National Research Council15
Social-emotional skills: “Relation-
ships are the soil in which children’s
SEL [social-emotional learning] skills
— Jones & Bouffard12
Education: “Positive relationships with
adults are perhaps the single most im-
portant ingredient in promoting positive
student development.”
—Pianta, Hamre, & Allen21
Civic life: “No society can long sustain
itself unless its members have learned
the sensitivities, motivations, and skills
involved in assisting and caring for
other human beings.”
— Bronfenbrenner3
Relationships First Search Institute
It’s not enough to say that relationships matter. To be
actionable, teachable, and measurable, we must specify
some of the ways young people interact with others that
contribute to their learning, growing, and thriving.
To that end, Search Institute has embarked on a major
initiative to understand and document the day-to-day
actions within relationships that contribute to a young
person’s development. We propose that relationships are
developmental when they help young people:
Discover who they are;
Develop abilities to shape their own lives; and
Learn how to engage with and contribute to the world
around them.
Our research team identied ve critical elements
of developmental relationships. These elements are
expressed through 20 specic actions (page 4).
Research by many other scholars shows that each element
matters in young people’s development.24,25 In addition, our
emerging research (which began with a national study of
parents20) suggests that these elements work together to
inuence young people’s learning, growth, and thriving (see
pages 7-9).
What Search Institute’s Developmental
Relationships Framework offers
This Developmental Relationships Framework invites
young people, parents, teachers, coaches, program
leaders, policy makers, researchers, and other adults to
focus attention on building and strengthening relationships
in young people’s lives. It offers the following features:
Is relevant across different kinds of relationships in
different contexts, including for young people who face
serious challenges and barriers in life and in society.
Operationalizes relationships, informing a holistic
framework and approach that links theory, measures,
strategies, and practical tools to improve youth
outcomes and reduce inequities.
Identies starting points for exploring and enriching
relationships—helping individuals be more intentional
in how they form, grow, and adjust relationships, while
also helping organizations create cultures, policies, and
practices that encourage relationships to ourish.
One size does not fit all
Of course, an inuential relationship for one young person
may not be meaningful for another. Some relationships
are eeting. Others last a lifetime. We each need different
things from different people at different times. Meaningful
relationships are characterized by a dynamic give and
take that shapes who we are as we grow, change, and
encounter new challenges and circumstances. The
framework offers a way to keep our bearings as different
kinds of relationships evolve and change, so we can
continue to be intentional on the ever-changing journey of
learning, growing, and thriving.
The roots of Search Institute’s Developmental Relationships Framework
The Developmental Relationships Framework grew out of focus groups with youth, parents, educators, youth workers,
and others; a wide-ranging review of existing research; extensive analysis of existing data; and input from both
scholars and practitioners.27
It also builds on Search Institute’s landmark research with more than 5 million youth on Developmental Assets—
critical supports and strengths they need to thrive. Peter L. Benson, who created the asset framework, wrote:
After decades of forming hypotheses, conducting surveys, crafting and rewriting denitions, analyzing data,
and writing journal articles, Search Institute researchers and practitioners have arrived at a surprisingly simple
conclusion: nothing—nothing—has more impact in the life of a child than positive relationships.2
The Developmental Relationships Framework
Relationships First Search Institute
Search Institute’s Developmental Relationships Framework
Be dependable
Believe in me
Be warm
Expect my best
Hold me accountable
Reflect on failures
Be someone I can trust.
Really pay attention when we are together.
Make me feel known and valued.
Show me you enjoy being with me.
Praise me for my efforts and achievements.
Expect me to live up to my potential.
Push me to go further.
Insist I take responsibility for my actions.
Help me learn from mistakes and setbacks.
Set boundaries
Respect me
Include me
Let me lead
Broaden Horizons
Guide me through hard situations and systems.
Build my confidence to take charge of my life.
Defend me when I need it.
Put in place limits to keep me on track.
Take me seriously and treat me fairly.
Involve me in decisions that affect me.
Work with me to solve problems and reach goals.
Create opportunities for me to take action and
Inspire me to see possibilities for my future.
Expose me to new ideas, experiences, and place
Introduce me to more people who can help me
A developmental relationship involves a dynamic mix of ve elements, which are expressed through 20 actions. Because
relationships are, by denition, bidirectional, each person in a strong relationship engages in and experiences each of
these actions. However, for the purpose of clarity, this framework is expressed from the perspective of one young person.
Relationships First Search Institute
How young people describe the power of developmental relationships
Search Institute has interviewed hundreds of young people from different backgrounds and in different settings about the
important relationships in their lives. Here are examples of how they describe their experiences of developmental relation-
ships with adults.
Express Care Challenge Growth Provide Support
Share Power
Expand Possibilities
“He made me feel like
I was a better person,
like I was worth some-
thing—worth more
than I had put myself
out to be.”
“Even if it’s really hard,
the [staff] will most like-
ly try to motivate you to
do the right thing. . . .
Even though you might
think it’s hard, they
know you can do it.”
“She helped me out
with a nice place to
live for 30 days when
it was 21 below zero
and I had nowhere to
My [youth leader] is,
like, I’m here, you’re
here, we’re equal.’
And if we’re working
on something together
I can tell her, ‘No, this
isn’t going to work.’”
“She puts you around
people who’ve
reached the places
you wanna go in life.
. . . And when you
see people who come
from the same places
that you do, . . . it
gives you hope.”
Different types of relationships can all be developmental
The Developmental Relationships Framework articulates elements and actions within relationships that can be
experienced in a single relationship. They can also be experienced in a wide range of relationships with different people at
home, at school, and in the community. Young people are most likely to do well when they have at least one well-rounded,
strong, and sustained relationship in their lives, as well as a broader web of many positive relationships across the places
they spend time and the people with whom they interact.
Here are conclusions from other researchers about relationships with different people in young people’s lives.
Mentors and other non-family adults: “VIPs [very important people who are nonparental adults] tend to provide a
combination of positive adult qualities . . . and ‘peer-like’ relations. . . . Through their relationships with VIPs, adolescents
often have an experientially rich and interpersonally supportive environment for development.”
Beam, Chen, & Greenberger1
Parents: “Regardless of age, children need parents. Indeed, across multiple studies, it appears that the quality of
the parent-child relationship is one of the more important factors in determining what kind of behaviors and attitudes
adolescents adopt across domains such as health, education, reproductive behaviors, social interactions, and problem
— Hair, Moore, Garrett et al.10
Friends: “Close and intimate connections with peers . . . during adolescence are essential for psychological and
emotional development.
—Niwa, Rogers, & Way18
Teachers: “When teachers learn to make modest efforts to form a personal connection with their adolescent students—
such that the students feel known—they can dramatically enhance student motivation in school and emotional functioning
outside of school.”
— Pianta, Hamre, & Allen21
Program leaders: “Community programs for youth provide opportunities to expose young people to caring adults who
challenge them, encourage them to participate in positive experiences, and respect their opinions. . . . [Guidance from
adults] may be one of the most important characteristics of highly valued programs.”
—National Research Council15
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of Developmental Relationships
One Community’s Snapshot
Friends Program
Sibling(s) Teachers
3.45 3.42 3.40
How often do young people experience the ve elements of developmental relationships? A 2016 Search Institute survey
of 25,395 students, grades 6 – 12, in a large, diverse U.S. city asked one question about how often they experienced
each of the ve elements of developmental relationships. Participants responded ve times, each time focusing on a
different kind of relationship: parents, siblings,* friends, teachers, and program leaders. (Future studies will expand to
other communities and will deepen measures of each kind of relationship.)
Strengths in relationships with
parenting adults
Many youth lack strong webs of
Different relationships contribute different strengths
Sibling(s) Friends Teachers Program
Express Care Challenge Growth Provide Support Share Power Expand Possibilities
67% 68%
Young people differ in the elements of developmental relationships they report experiencing most in different kinds of
relationships. Across all relationships, middle and high school students are least likely to experience “expand possibilities.”
Here are the percentages of young people in this one community who said they experienced each of the ve elements of
developmental relationships “often” or “very often” within each type of relationship.
Looking across all ve elements of a developmental rela-
tionship, young people reported the most strength in their
relationships with parenting adults, followed by friends.
Relationships with siblings, teachers, and program leaders
(such as coaches, mentors, and club leaders) were roughly
similar (3 = “sometimes,” 4 = “often”).
Strong None
Relationships are considered “strong” when young people
experience the 5 elements of developmental relationships,
on average, often or very often. In this study, only 28% of
young people experience strength in 4 or 5 types of rela-
tionships. On the other hand, 40% identify just one or no
types of relationships that are, on average, strong.
Relationships First Search Institute
Why Developmental Relationships Matter
Many youth lack strong webs of
The Developmental Relationships Framework focuses on elements of relationships that contribute to a young person’s
growth, learning, and thriving. Through studies that examine different relationships, Search Institute has begun to
document the power of these relationships in young people’s lives, building on a wide range of existing research by many
scholars on the power of relationships.
1. Young people who experience strong developmental relationships are more
likely to report a wide range of social-emotional strengths and other indicators
of well-being and thriving
Percent of difference in the outcome
explained by parent-youth relationships Definition
Emotional Competence
Openness to Challenge
Personal Responsibility
Mastery Motivation
Academic Control
Are aware of and comfortable with who they are and their
own strengths and challenges.
Are aware of their own feelings, and able to manage
emotions in order to stay on task and work towards goals.
Have an intrinsic desire to explore new things and take on
new challenges.
Own their own behaviors and fulfill their commitments.
Are motivated to learn, try things, master new skills, and
improve academically.
Believe they are responsible for their own grades and
success in school.
See helping others as a personal responsibility.
SOURCES: A. Cross-sectional studies of 633 matched parent-adolescent pairs from one semi-urban and one rural community in the United States.
B. A survey of 675 students in grades 6 to 8 in a large, suburban middle school. C. 917 participants in an immersive conservation-focused summer
program, reporting on their relationships with crew leaders and members.27
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2. Young people with strong relationships are more resilient in the face of stress
and trauma.
Families dealing with adversity are better equipped to mitigate the negative impact of stressful events when they have
robust parent-child relationships. If young people in high-stressed families* have strong developmental relationships with
their parents, then they are . . .
21 times more likely to manage their emotions well.
17 times more likely to take personal responsibility for their actions.
5 times more likely to be good at making and keeping plans.
4 times more likely to have a sense of purpose in life.†
3. Young people do better when they experience a strong web of relationships
with many people.
Each relationship can be an important source of strength. But, young people do even better when they have a strong
web of many developmental relationships. This nding reinforces the importance of nurturing many developmental
relationships in young people’s lives, each of which complements and reinforces the others.
The charts on page 9 show the average score (from 1 to 100) that youth report on measures of each element of well-
being or risk, based on the strength of their web of relationships.‡ Data are from surveys of 25,395 students, grades 6 –
12, in a large U.S. city. (See page 5 for more information about the web of relationships.)
* High-stressed families are those who scored in the top 30% on a measure of 14 high-stress events or experiences in family life, including death of a
parent, a family member’s incarceration, or a chronic illness or disability.23
† Findings are from a study of 633 families in two communities. A parent and a youth in each family completed the survey. For these analyses, data
on stressful life events came from the parent survey. Measures of relationships and outcomes are from the youth surveys. These calculations were
made after accounting for a number of demographic differences, including the youth’s gender, age, race/ethnicity, urbanicity, nancial strain, and sexual
‡ Each well-being measure was calculated on a 5-point scale, and then multiplied to create a 100-point index. “High-risk behaviors” is based on a
composite measure of 24 behaviors. The web of relationships is based on youth reporting about the types of relationships (e.g., with parents, teachers) in
which they experience the ve elements of a developmental relationship “often” or “very often.”
B. Teacher- student
C. Program leaders
B. Teacher-student
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Academic Motivation
The average score (1-100) that youth report on measures of
academic motivation.
Care about how they do in school, and try as hard as they can to
do their best work.
# of Strong Relationships
Socio-Emotional Skills
The average score (1-100) that youth report on measures of socio-
emotional skills.
Recognize and respect other people’s feelings, and are good at
making and keeping friends.
# of Strong Relationships
The average score (1-100) that youth report on measures
of responsibility skills.
Take responsibility for their own actions, and do their best even
on tasks they don’t like.
# of Strong Relationships
High-Risk Behaviors
The average score (1-100) that youth report on measures of high-risk
Engage in high-risk behaviors, such as alcohol use, tobacco use,
or violent behaviors.
# of Strong Relationships
81 82
10 98765
88 89
91 92
Relationships First Search Institute
Anything you need, you can come to her
To create and rene the Developmental Relationships
Framework, Search Institute has conducted interviews and
focus groups with young people across the United States.
Cedric’s story is based on an in-depth interview. Names and
details have been changed to maintain anonymity.
When Cedric rst met Miss Lonnie, you would have as-
sumed the relationship was going nowhere. Cedric’s sister
had coaxed him to go to an arts class Miss Lonnie led, but
he didn’t go back after the rst time. In his own words, he
was “a really shy kid who didn’t really talk to anybody.”
However, Cedric’s passion for art grew, as did his self-con-
dence. Years later he returned, and he became really in-
volved in the programs Miss Lonnie was leading. By the time
he was a high school senior, Cedric thought of Miss Lonnie
rst, when asked about important adults in his life beyond his
family. Miss Lonnie became “a second mom and a sister.”
Listening to Cedric, you can hear how his relationship with
Miss Lonnie reects each element of a developmental rela-
Express Care: Cedric describes Miss Lonnie as “accessible,
not judgmental,” and “always available and here for you.”
Because “she listens a lot and is very open,” he can talk to
her about almost anything, and “it won’t be weird or uncom-
Challenge Growth: Miss Lonnie pushes Cedric to “nd out
who I was and what I wanna do in life. . . . No matter who
she works with, she sees the potential in you.”
Provide Support: “She’s here for you, pretty much any-
thing you need. She tries to help you with as best she can,
whether it’s advice or you need a ride somewhere, someone
just to talk to.”
Share Power: When their after-school group was planning
a college tour, Miss Lonnie “came to me about guring out
the events and ordering the shirts and stuff. So I contacted
the places, got names for the shirts, gured out how much it
would cost.”
Expand Possibilities: Miss Lonnie “surrounds us with these
professional people” and gives students opportunities to
explore options for their future. “I’ve been in a business pro-
gram, accounting program, and dance. Going to these differ-
ent programs that she’s told me about, I’ve kinda discovered
How developmental relationships grow
The research on relationships and the emerging frame-
work offers fresh insights into the elements of relation-
ships, and their role in young people’s growth and
learning. But how do they start, grow, and change over
time? Search Institute is just beginning to explore the
processes that may be at work.
As a starting point, it’s clear that all strong relationships
are dynamic and changing, not rigid and unchanging.6
They evolve as the people in them grow, and they also
stimulate growth for each person.
Although each relationship is unique, it can be helpful
to articulate how actions might be intentionally phased
across time. The gure on page 9 illustrates one potential
path, beginning with basic relationship actions and add-
ing others as a relationship deepens.
Many factors can alter this pathway, including how often
people interact with each other, each person’s relational
skills, the setting they are in, and many other factors. For
example, when we are intentional about listening, we
may discover a need to advocate for that young person
to address a pressing need, thus shifting the path of our
A path through the Developmental
Relationships Framework
Where might you start with building developmental
relationships? Each relationship is different, involving
different people,at different places in their own develop-
mental journeys, and in different settings. In some cases,
the rst phases may pass quickly. In others, it may take
Relationships are not linear; they have their ups and
down, and their backs and forths. Different aspects of
relationships have to be revisited and renegotiated as
people, experiences, and circumstances change. Phases
recycle as circumstances change and as young people
grow. And, all these changes are occurring for both
people in a relationship, not just the young person. As,
one parent told us about their relationship with their child,
“He’s my rst child, and I still learn from him. I learn from
him every day.
”Within this complexity, it can be helpful to reect on
which relationship actions might be most meaningful at
different phases of a relationship. Where might you start?
Mentoring9 and other elds offer clues about potential
phases in building new developmental relationships,
shown in the display below. Over time, Search Institute
will rene our understanding of these processes, through
learning partnerships in diverse settings.
Relationships First Search Institute
AN EXAMPLE: A possible progression in a developmental relationship
Below is an example of how you might think about the growth of a new relationship to becoming, over time, more of a
developmental relationship. For example, “respect me” is listed in the rst stage, since this action is often a precursor to
appropriate self-disclosure that sets the stage for other actions. This is, of course, only an example. Depending on the
circumstances and the relationship, other actions may be appropriate entry points. Thinking about a specic relationship
you have, what progression did you experience? If forming a new relationship, how might you focus your attention based
on what you know about the young person?
Put energy into
reaching goals and adapt
the relationship to match growth.
Relationships First Search Institute
A well-intentioned curriculum and social service
system will not be effective unless its implementation
builds on and enhances the quality of developmental
relationships in the classroom or the community.
— Li & Julian14
A core hypothesis of Search Institute’s work on
developmental relationships is that enhancing relationships
can strengthen youth programs and services, and improve
outcomes. As we’ve seen, developmental relationships are
consistently associated with positive outcomes for young
people. Through listening to young people and others, we
have been able to articulate actionable ways to be more
intentional in building relationships.
But what might it look like if organizations took seriously
the idea of relationships as the “active ingredient”16 in
the effectiveness of their programs and services? Of
course, the specic strategies will look different in schools,
after-school programs, faith communities, social or work
settings, and other youth development organizations.
However, a focus on actively cultivating a relationally
rich culture grounded in relational trust4 has tremendous
potential for enhancing effectiveness and impact across a
wide variety of organizational settings.
Starting points
It might be tempting to begin by designing new program
or campaign that focuses on promoting relationships.
Yet, relationships are already being built in any school,
youth program, and other places. What is needed is an
intentional focus on building developmental relationships.
Building a relationally rich culture school or program. This
might include the following strategies:
Introduce staff, young people, volunteers, families,
and other stakeholders to the idea and importance of
developmental relationships. Ask: How do they see this
approach tting with shared priorities? The “levels of
relationships” box highlights the need to recognize and
operationalize a variety of roles in building relationships
within an organization.
Examine how your organization already invests in
building relationships and identify opportunities for
focused attention. Prime thinking with the 7 questions
on page 13.
Have individuals identify ways they can start building
developmental relationships right away (Share tips
from the list on pages 14-15.)
Piloting practical tools for building
Search Institute has begun working with partners to
develop processes and tools to mobilize individuals, groups
and organizations to become more intentional about
nurturing developmental relationships. Here are some
examples of our rst work, with focused efforts in other
settings on the horizon.
Teacher-student relationships: Most educators recognize
the importance of student-teacher relationships.30 However,
it can be challenging to focus on building relationships
when accountability is elsewhere and when you teach
dozens, if not hundreds, of students each semester. Search
Institute is working with 12 Minnesota schools to create
the REACH Process, a system of classroom activities
and teacher professional development opportunities that
activating relationships in organizations
Levels of relationships in organizations
A common reaction to the detailed articulation of elements of developmental relationships is to say, “I can’t do all that
with everyone.” However, the goal is not to require every person to have a deep, sustained relationship with every
young person. Rather, how can you ensure that each and every young person is embedded in a web of positive
Think about different levels of relationships that are consistent with the Developmental Relationships Framework:
All: What relational actions are expected by everyone, such as treating each other with respect and warmth?
Some: What kinds of relational actions are expected (and realistic) for interactions with groups of youth, such as
knowing the names of students in your classroom?
A few: Who are the handful of young people each person will invest in because of a particular connection or
opportunity, such as sharing a passion for music or basketball, or because the young person him- or herself
invites a stronger relationship?
Relationships First Search Institute
emphasizes teacher-student relationships as a catalyst for
improving students’ academic motivation.
All REACH components are built on factors identied
in research that contribute to student motivation, with
relationships as the vital starting point (the “R” in REACH).
Other key factors include students’ Effort, Aspirations,
Cognition, and Heart.19 This approach focuses on creating
a school-wide commitment to activating these “active
ingredients” in student motivation. Ongoing research is both
focused on strengthening the model and building evidence
of its impact.
Family relationships: Few would dispute that parent-child
and other family relationships are vital for a young person’s
well-being.22,29 But don’t relationships really matter most
in early childhood? And can—and should—schools and
other organizations invest in strengthening parent-youth
relationships? If it’s hard to get parents to show up for
parent nights and other events, will they value opportunities
focused on building family relationships?
Search Institute is exploring these questions through a pilot
program, Keep Connected, with partners from California to
Washington, DC. Through six workshops plus a graduation
celebration, middle school students and their parents
explore their relationships separately and in combined
Peer relationships: Relationships among peers have
potential to be particularly catalytic for learning and
development during middle school and high school.5
Working with Barbara Varenhorst, a founder of the peer-
helping movement, Search Institute is partnering with
middle and high schools to understand and strengthen peer
relationships. This effort involves testing tools and services
that schools and programs can use to enhance peer
relationships and measure their impact.
Our hypothesis is that high-quality peer programs can help
peers build developmental relationships with each other
(and adult leaders) that enhance the social-emotional
strengths needed for school success, health, and civic
engagement. Through this work, we will learn more about
how schools and organizations can intentionally cultivate
positive peer relationships as resources for growth and
Exploring other relationships: Over time, Search
Institute will engage with a range of partners
to examine and strengthen different kinds of
relationships, including relationships with program
leaders and mentors. Each effort will be designed to
enhance, not replace, existing content emphases,
based on the premise that relationships function as
the “active ingredient” to increase the effectiveness of
other youth development and educational strategies.
7 questions
How Does Your Organization Invest in
Use these questions for reection and dia-
logue with colleagues and stakeholders:
1. Experience: How consistently do young
people experience developmental
relationships in your organization? Are
some groups of youth more likely than
others to experience them?
2. Expectations: How clearly articulated
are relationship actions that are essential
to your mission, strategy, and culture?
3. Time: Is regular time dedicated to
building relationships with and among
youth? What happens during that time?
4. Personnel: How are abilities to nurture
strong relationships factored into sta
and volunteer hiring and development?
5. Budget: How might your budget more
explicitly reect your commitment to
reinforcing relationships
6. Training: How oen do sta meetings
or professional development focus on
practical ways to cultivate relationships?
7. Feedback: How do you collect and use
data, feedback, or other information
that can help monitor and strengthen
intentional relationship building?
ink about what might happen if you were
to increase your investment in these areas.
How might youth, sta, parents, and other
stakeholders respond?
Relationships First Search Institute
Express Care
Challenge Growth
Provide Support
Share Power
The Developmental Relationships Framework focuses on aspects of relationships that can be changed through intentional
action. Try the following tips for strengthening each element of developmental relationships with and among young
people. (Of course, ideas for one group can be adapted for others.) These ideas build on insights from focus groups and
interviews, as well as research on the elements of developmental relationships.
1. Pay attention. Focus on youth when they are talking
about things that matter to them. Put away your cell
2. Follow up with young people when you learn about
what they are going through something, rather than
waiting for them to bring it up again.
3. Make time for lightness. Share in some humor, fun, and
laughter amid the practical tasks.
4. Highlight future goals. Talk with young people about the
things they look forward to or dream about.
5. Expand their thinking by asking hard questions,
providing alternate explanations, and encouraging
openness to different opinions. This helps them expand
their own thinking.
6. Emphasize mistakes are a necessary part of learning.
Praise them for hard work, whether they succeed or
7. Offer information and practical help to solve a practical
problem, or loan them something they may need.
8. Show young people how to ask for help when they
need it.
9. Shift levels of support. Give more support when young
people are struggling, and less when they are making
progress. Step back as their skills and condence
10. Let young people make decisions about activities you
do together and what you talk about. Don’t jump in too
fast when they don’t make quick decisions or think of
things to talk about.
11. When you can, offer choices (“So, what could you do
differently to tackle this problem?”), rather than always
giving instructions.
12. Learn from young people—and show it. Young people
have a lot to teach adults. Let them know when you’ve
learned something from them that you’re excited about.
13. When young people seem curious about an activity,
topic, or issue, ask questions such as “what strikes you
about this?”
14. Introduce young people to a wide range of people,
places, ideas, cultures, and vocations. Start with ones
they’re curious about.
15. Broaden the web of relationships. Connect young
people to people who share their interests or can
expand their world.
55 Ideas for deepening one-to-one relationships
Elements All Adults Young People
16. When taking with friends,
ask follow-up questions that
help you get to know them
17. Let friends know you
noticed when they do
something you admire.
18. Encourage friends to spend
time doing things that will
help them reach their future
goals and dreams.
19. Model how you put in
effort to learn. Push back if
others dismiss the value of
20. When a friend can’t gure
out how to solve a problem,
offer to talk it out together.
21. Offer your support when
friends face challenges. If
needed, ask a trusted adult
to be an ally and resource.
22. When you’re on a team or
in a group, practice listening
to others, negotiating, and
making decisions that work
well for everyone.
23. Notice peers who tend to
be left out or are quiet. Find
ways to include them and
give them a voice.
24. Take turns with friends
trying new food, music, or
outings, based on each
other’s interests.
25. Introduce friends to people
who can help them learn
things that interest them.
Relationships First Search Institute
Parenting Adults Teachers
program leaders
26. Ask follow-up questions
so you both know you’re
interested and tracking.
27. Find satisfaction in doing
things for and with your
child, even if these things
wouldn’t otherwise be
important to you.
28. Expect your children to
do their best, even when
doing something they
don’t really like.
29. Teach your children that
making mistakes is a part
of learning.
30. When you teach your
child a skill, demonstrate
it by breaking it into
smaller steps.
31. When your children are
not getting the help they
need, nd people who
can address the issue.
32. Include your children in
thinking about decisions,
even when you have to
make the nal call.
33. When you disagree, take
time to understand each
other’s point of view.
34. Find ways for your
children to spend time
with people who are
different from your family.
35. Encourage your children
to try things they might
be interested in. Maybe
even try it together.
36. Strive to understand
and show sensitivity to
students’ feelings.
37. Use varied teaching
strategies to make
learning enjoyable, and
to help students connect
with you and each other.
38. Emphasize mastery and
self-improvement more
so than doing better than
other students.
39. Challenge students to
reach high expectations.
Hold them accountable.
40. Provide specic and
descriptive feedback for
students to use toward
their improvement.
41. Teach strategies for
performing and learning
under pressure.
42. Give students classroom
choices within rules and
safety limits.
43. Ask students for input
on assignments, class
content, and how they
can show prociency.
44. Demonstrate how what
students are learning
relates to their interests
and to success outside of
school and in the future.
45. Connect students with
educators, other students,
and community members
who can explore with
them areas of personal
interest and strength.
46. Work to understand
young people’s points
of view when they share
ideas or opinions.
47. Do what you say you
will do, and keep your
48. Challenge young people
to try things that are a
little hard for them to do.
49. Help young people nd
their own solutions,
rather than just telling
them what to do.
50. Help young people think
through options and
resources when they
encounter obstacles.
51. Show young people how
to ask for help when they
need it.
52. Provide opportunities
for young people to lead
programs based on their
53. Emphasize building
community and serving
others through youth-
initiated projects.
54. Introduce young people
to other cultures, ideas,
and places that help
them discover their place
in the world.
55. Model being a curious
learner by asking
questions and sharing
what you’re learning in
your own life.
Express Care
Challenge Growth
Provide Support
Share Power
Relationships First Search Institute
Spider webs are marvels of nature. They are both very
strong and very exible. By some estimates, they are ve
to ten times stronger than a steel web of the same weight.
They can also stretch by 30 to 40 percent without breaking.
Engineers who study them say that the genius of spider
webs lies in this combination of strength and exibility. One
report on the research put it this way:
Spider webs, it turns out, can take quite a beating
without failing. . . . Localized damage can simply be
repaired, rather than replaced, or even left alone if
the web continues to function as before. “Even if it
has a lot of defects, the web actually still functions
mechanically virtually the same way,” MIT engineer
Marcus Buehler says. “It’s a very aw-tolerant
The spider web is a useful, if imperfect, analogy for what
each and every young person needs to grow and thrive. A
spider depends on its web for sustenance; a young person
depends on a web of relationships to shape and guide
virtually every aspect of life. A web of relationships does
not have to be perfect to be life sustaining. But it does need
to be strong and exible, adapting to the world around
it, and to the needs and strengths of the people in those
The diagram on this page is a reminder that a strong
web of relationships needs to include strands from home,
school, and community; made up of parents, siblings,
grandparents, friends, teachers, mentors, coaches, and
many others. Current research suggests that young people
are most likely to ourish when they are embedded in a
web of these relationships while also having at least three
to ve “anchor relationships”7,22 they know they can depend
on at home, at school, and in other places they spend time.
All relationships are not the same. And as children grow
into adulthood, the people they rely on most typically shift
and change. Along the way, other relationships complement
the strengths of those central relationships. Like a web,
each signicant relationship inuences and shapes the
So everyone doesn’t have to do everything for every
young person all the time. But, each and every young
person needs a web of relationships through which they
experience all ve elements of developmental relationships.
Each and every person can be part of some young
person’s web.
Many questions remain to be examined
Search Institute is at the beginning of its focused exploration of developmental relationships. Numerous critical
questions drive Search Institute’s research agenda moving forward.
How are developmental relationships consistent and unique across cultures and contexts?
How might strengthening developmental relationships contribute to reducing inequities in opportunities and
supports for young people who are marginalized in society, including youth of color, immigrant youth, youth with
special needs, low-income youth, and LGBTQ youth?
How are different relationships (e.g., parent, teacher, peer, mentor) developmental in different ways? How do
these different relationships complement each other?
To what extent do developmental relationships enhace social-emotional strengths in domains of identity, agency,
and commitment to community, which in turn predict success in school, work, and other areas of life?
Examining these and other questions is the heart of Search Institute’s research agenda, which focuses on building
stronger evidence about developmental relationships. This will include mixed-methods observational, longitudinal, and
experimental studies in diverse contexts.
Imagining Strong and flexible webs of relationships
Relationships First Search Institute
1. Beam, M. R., Chen, C., & Greenberger, E. (2002). The nature of
adolescents’ relationships with their “very important” nonparental adults.
American Journal of Community Psychology, 30(2), 305–325.
2. Benson, P. L. (2010). Parent, teacher, mentor, friend: How every adult
can change kids’ lives. Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute.
3. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
4. Bryk, A., & Schneider, B. (2002). Trust in schools: A core resource for
improvement. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.
5. Bukowski, W. M., Duhrmester, D., & Underwood, M. (2011). Peer
relations as a developmental context. In M. K. Underwood & L. H.
Rosen (Eds.), Social development: Relationships in infancy, childhood,
and adolescence (pp. 153-179). New York, NY: Guilford.
6. Caughlin, J. P., & Huston, T. L. (2010). The ourishing literature on
ourishing relationships. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 2(1),
7. Center for Promise (2015). Don’t quit on me: What young people who
left school say about the power of relationships. Washington, DC:
America’s Promise Alliance.
8. Chandler, D. L. (2012, Feb. 2). How spider webs achieve their strength.
News release from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved
9. Garringer, M., & Jucovy, L. (2007). Building relationships: A guide for
new mentors (Revised). Portland, OR: National Mentoring Center at the
Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory.
10. Hair, E. C., Moore, K. A., Garrett, S. B., Kinukawa, A., Laura, H.,
& Michelson, E. (2005). The parent-adolescent relationship scale.
Adolescent & Family Health, 4(1), 12–25.
11. Heinrich, L. M., & Gullone, E. (2006). The clinical signicance of
loneliness: A literature review. Clinical Psychology Review, 26(6), 695-
12. Jones, S. M., & Bouffard, S. M. (2012). Social and emotional learning
in schools: From programs to strategies. Social Policy Report, 26(4),
3–22. Retrieved from sites/default/les/documents/
13. Laursen, B., & Collins, W. A. (2009). Parent-child relationships during
adolescence. In R. M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of
adolescent psychology: Vol. 2: Contextual inuences on adolescent
development (pp. 3–16). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
14. Li, J., & Julian, M. M. (2012). Developmental relationships as the
active ingredient: A unifying working hypothesis of “what works” across
intervention settings. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 82(2),
15. National Research Council (2002). Community programs to promote
youth development. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
16. National Scientic Council on the Developing Child (2009). Young
children develop in an environment of relationships (Working Paper
No. 1, updated). Cambridge, MA: Center on the Developing Child at
Harvard University. Retrieved from
17. National Scientic Council on the Developing Child (2015). Supportive
relationships and active skill-building strengthen the foundations
of resilience (Working Paper 13). Cambridge, MA: Center on the
Developing Child at Harvard University. Retrieved from www.
18. Niwa, E. Y., Rogers, L. O., & Way, N. (2016). Peer relationships in
cultural context. In L. Balter & C. S. Tamis-LeMonda (Eds.), Child
psychology: A handbook of contemporary issues, 3rd Ed. (pp. 247-261).
New York, NY: Routledge.
19. Pekel, K. (2016). The REACH strategies guidebook. Minneapolis, MN:
Search Institute.
20. Pekel, K., Roehlkepartain, E. C., Syvertsen, A. K., & Scales, P. C.
(2015). Don’t forget the families: The missing piece in America’s effort to
help all children succeed. Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute. Retrieved
21. Pianta, R. C., Hamre, B. K., & Allen, J. P. (2012). Teacher-student
relationships and engagement: Conceptualizing, measuring, and
improving the capacity of classroom interactions. In S. L. Christenson,
A. L. Reschly, & C. Wylie (Eds.). Handbook of research on student
engagement (pp. 365-386). New York, NY: Springer.
22. Reis, H. T., Collins, W. A., & Berscheid, E. (2000). The relationship
context of human behavior and development. Psychological Bulletin,
126(6), 844–872.
23. Roehlkepartain, E. C. (2013). Families and communities together:
Strength and resilience during early adolescence (Doctoral
dissertation). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota.
24. Scales, P. C., & Roehlkepartain, E. C. (in press). The contribution
of nonfamily adults to adolescent well-being: A global research and
policy perspective. In J. E. Lansford & P. Banati (Eds.), Handbook of
adolescent development research and its impact on global policy. New
York, NY: Oxford University Press.
25. Scales, P. C., Roehlkepartain, E. C., Syvertsen, A. K., Sullivan, T. K.,
Sethi, J., & Pekel, K., (2017). Promotion of youth well-being through
measuring and strengthening developmental relationships: A new
theoretical framework. Manuscript in preparation.
26. Schinka, K. C., van Dulmen, M. H., Mata, A. D., Bossarte, R.,
& Swahn, M. (2013). Psychosocial predictors and outcomes of
loneliness trajectories from childhood to early adolescence. Journal of
Adolescence, 36(6), 1251-1260.
27. Syvertsen, A. K., Wu, C-Y., Roehlkepartain, E. C., & Scales, P. C.
(2015). Don’t forget the families: Technical appendix. Minneapolis, MN:
Search Institute.
28. Syvertsen, A. K., Wu, C.-Y., & Sullivan, T. K. (2017). Youth development
through service to nature. Manuscript submitted for publication.
29. Tuttle, A. R., Knudson-Martin, C., & Kim, L. (2012). Parenting as
relationship: A framework for assessment and practice. Family Process,
51(1), 73–89.
30. Wubbels, T., Brekelmans, J. M. G., Mainhard, T., den Brok, P., &
van Tartwijk, J. (2016). Teacher-student relationships and student
achievement. In K. R. Wentzel & G. B. Ramani (Eds.), Handbook of
social inuences in school contexts: Social-emotional, motivation, and
cognitive outcomes (pp. 127-145). New York, NY: Routledge.
Relationships First Search Institute
resources from search institute
REACH is a new set of research-based resources to strengthen students’ academic
motivation and put them on the path to becoming self-propelled young adults.
REACH is an acronym for:
R elationships—Connections to learn and grow
E ffort—The power of a growth mindset
A spirations—Hopes for a positive future
C ognition—Key self-regulation strategies
H eart—Core values and sparks (deep personal interests)
The REACH suite includes a student survey, workshops for educators, technical
assistance, and an in-depth implementation. For more information, visit
Relationship-Based Resource for Family Engagement
Keep Connected offers a six-session workshop series for parents and their middle
schoolers. Families explore the ve essential elements of parent-youth relationships
through a mix of learning and sharing activities. To learn more, visit: www.
Keep Connected is aligned with, a free resource focused
on encouraging families to strengthen relationships through shared activities.
It includes self-quizzes and self-guided activities families can enjoy together to
strengthen their relationships.
Identify young people’s strengths and challenges by using high-quality, useful
survey instruments from Search Institute. Available surveys examine developmental
relationships, student motivation, youth program quality, and Developmental Assets.
Each survey is offered online and includes a detailed, actionable report on ndings.
Build expertise and develop practical strategies to put Search Institute research
into practice with a range of workshops for educators, youth workers, community
leaders, parents, and young people.
Search Institute offers a variety of books and other resources for educators, youth
workers, parents, and other leaders that focus on practical strategies to build assets
and other strengths with young people.
Other Resources
Relationships First Search Institute
Roehlkepartain, E. C., Pekel, K., Syvertsen, A. K., Sethi, J., Sullivan, T. K., & Scales, P. C. (2017).
Relationships First: Creating Connections that Help Young People Thrive. Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute.
Copyright © 2017 by Search Institute®, 615 First Avenue N.E., Suite 125, Minneapolis, MN 55413; 800-888-7828.
All rights reserved.
To learn more, visit or call 800-888-7828.
This resource was made possible with the support of the Einhorn Family Charitable Trust.
Search Institute is an international leader in discovering what kids need to succeed in their
families, schools, and communities. Using applied research and improvement solutions, we
collaborate with organizations, schools, and community coalitions to solve critical challenges
in young people’s lives.
... These attributes develop through rich contexts and relationships (Jones & Bouffard, 2012). While one strong, caring, and sustained relationship in a child's life can significantly impact social and emotional development and well-being (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2015), the positive effects are amplified when children have a web of caring relationships that reinforce each other (Roehlkepartain et al., 2017). In K-12 education, Dewey (1939K-12 education, Dewey ( /1997 was an early advocate for the role of schools in fostering interconnected social networks for students by strengthening family-school ties. ...
... Following Goodall and Montgomery's (2014) continuum framework, Figure 1 conceptualizes family-school ties as inclusive, including a range of behaviors that range from school-directed (Epstein 1987;Rice & Ortiz, 2021) to reciprocal (CASEL, 2020, Mapp & Bergman, 2019). As family-school ties move towards partnerships, an animated version of the model might display a growing, or brightening, center, representing the research findings that, while family-school ties of all types can positively benefit students, interconnected relationships best support their social and emotional needs (CASEL, 2020; National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2015; Roehlkepartain et al., 2017). ...
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... PYD is inseparable from the competencies for the 21 st century (International Olympic Committee, 2018; Scales et al., 2015) and it is represented in HEM6, HEM9, HEM2. The relationship as the key precondition for motivation (Roehlkepartain et al., 2017) is represented in HEM4, HEM5, HEM6. After the instrument's calibration, the final instrument has been designed consisting of ten variables (Table 2). ...
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The aim of this study is to test the reliability and validity of the instrument known as Holistic Experience of Motivation Scale (HEMS) that has been used to examine the foundation of holistic experience of motivation in adolescents. Analyzing current research, theories, and practices in positive psychology, it is assumed that the need for purpose, i.e. recognition of the purpose, is a common need manifested differently in different constructs of human motivation.The HEMS is proposed after a theoretical and comparative analysis of various constructs of motivation, philosophies, and educational theories. Holistic Experience of Motivation (HEM) is measured in adolescents (age 14-15, total 50) after the intervention program (IP) in physical education that shows positive effects on intrinsic motivation, self-determination, achievement of goals, flow, thriving, and mindfulness. In the preliminary validation of the instrument, reliability and validity were measured using descriptive and principal component factor analysis for the case 1:5 with the Monte Carlo method. In the final instrument of 10 variables, three preliminary factors emerged: purpose, focus and example/role-model, but with the application of the Monte Carlo method only one factor emerged. The preliminary results show that the basis of the HEM can be the factor of “purpose”. The purpose or meaning may be a common need that is presented through different constructs of motivation in positive psychology. Different philosophical paradigms and constructs of motivation are shown to be connected. It is shown that the purpose or meaning in question is of spiritual/religious nature and that it is manifested through satisfying the basic psychological needs of self-determination and through the realization of motivational sparks that are markers of deep personal interests. The results show that the HEMS requires an upgrade with an additional validation on a larger sample and its correlation with other constructs in positive psychology. Also, they confirm that relationships have a significant role in motivation and recognition of personal purpose. The study presents the IP that can be used for making an environment for a holistic experience of motivation, which can also be applied in programs that aim toward the development of leadership and moral and ethical values in youth.Key words: flow; intrinsic motivation; mindfulness; positive youth development; sparks. --- Cilj je ovoga istraživanja ispitati pouzdanost i valjanost Skale cjelovito iskustvo motivacije (CIM) (eng. Holistic Experience of Motivation Scale) koja je korištena za istraživanje osnove cjelovitoga iskustva motivacije kod adolescenata. Analizom dosadašnjih istraživanja, teorija i praksi pozitivne psihologije pretpostavljeno je da je potreba za svrhom, tj. prepoznavanje osobne svrhe zajednička potreba koja je manifestirana različito u različitim konstruktima motivacije.Skala CIM dizajnirana je teorijsko-komparativnom metodom istraživanja konstrukata motivacije, filozofija i teorija edukacije. Cjelovito iskustvo motivacije (CIM) mjereno je kod adolescenata uzrasne dobi 14 – 15 god. (ukupno 50) nakon primjene interventnoga programa (IP) u nastavi tjelesne i zdravstvene kulture koji je pokazao pozitivan utjecaj na intrinzičnu motivaciju, samoodređenje, postignuće ciljeva, zanesenost, pregnuće (thriving) i stalnu svijest (mindfulness). Za preliminarnu validaciju instrumenta pouzdanost i valjanost mjerena je deskriptivnom i faktorskom analizom glavnih komponenata za slučaj 1:5 s Monte Karlo metodom (MKM). U konačnom instrumentu od 10 varijabli izdvojila su se tri faktora: svrhovitost, usredotočenost, primjer/uzor, ali primjenom MKM istaknuo se jedan faktor.Preliminarni rezultati pokazuju da bi osnova CIM mogla biti svrhovitost (purpose). Svrha – smisao mogla bi biti zajednička potreba predstavljena različitim konstruktima motivacije u pozitivnoj psihologiji. Povezane su različite filozofske paradigme i konstrukti motivacije. Pokazano je da je doživljaj svrhe – smisla duhovne/religiozne prirode i da se manifestira kroz zadovoljenje psiholoških potreba samoodređenja i kroz realizaciju iskri (sparks) kao oznake dubokih interesiranja pojedinca.Rezultati pokazuju da Skala CIM treba nadgradnju, dodatnu validaciju na većem broju ispitanika i utvrđivanje kvantitativne povezanosti s drugim konstruktima unutar pozitivne psihologije. Također, oni potvrđuju da međuodnosi imaju vrlo značajnu ulogu u motivaciji, prepoznavanju osobne svrhe. Istraživanje nudi IP koji se može upotrijebiti za stvaranje okoline za cjelovito iskustvo motivacije te se isti može primijeniti u programima koji imaju za cilj razvoj liderstva, moralnih i etičkih vrijednosti kod mladih.Ključne riječi: intrinzična motivacija; iskre; ; pozitivan razvoj mladih; stalna svjesnost; zanesenost.
... Some counselors demonstrated both relationship skills and social awareness by forming quality relationships and creating a welcoming environment. Roehlkepartain et al. (2017) suggests that "relationships are at the heart of what youth need to learn, grow, and thrive" (p. 2), which is mirrored by Jones and Bouffard's (2012) belief that "relationships are the soil in which children's SEL skills grow" (p. 2). ...
Camp programs hire counselors to fulfill multiple responsibilities and to role model positive behaviors for campers. Social-emotional learning (SEL) is a skill set that develops over time and through engagement with an array of individuals and opportunities that support social and emotional health across the lifespan. The social design of an overnight summer camp may be an ideal setting for nurturing SEL through camper-counselor relationships. The purpose of this study was to explore how counselors understood and modeled SEL with their campers and to what extent the campers recognized and interpreted those behaviors. Evidence suggests that counselors intended to role model SEL; however, they were inconsistent in how they modeled SEL during interactions with campers. Counselors’ own SEL may need more explicit support and training to more effectively role model SEL for campers.
... The relationships between youth and adults in 4-H form the second element of the developmental context. Youth-adult relationships are considered developmental when they express care, challenge growth, provide support and empowerment, share power, and expand possibilities for youth (Roehlkepartain et al., 2017). Developmental relationships also grow and change over time in alignment with a young person's developmental needs Li & Julian, 2012). ...
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The 4-H Thriving Model predicts that participation in high-quality 4-H programs helps youth thrive and that thriving youth achieve key developmental outcomes, thus illuminating the process of positive youth development in 4-H. This paper provides an update on the 4-H Thriving Model, with particular attention to model modifications based on additional research. The paper then describes the formation of the Advancing the 4-H Thriving Model Task Force, a 3-year project chartered by the national 4-H Program Leaders Working Group (PLWG). The paper describes how the work of the task force will support efforts related to the professional development of 4-H youth development professionals and volunteers, replication of and further research on the 4-H Thriving model, and organizational alignment across the national 4-H system.
... Research suggests that consistent participation in extracurricular activities is a predictor of increased academic achievement and increased social skills in young adulthood (Zaff et al., 2003). In addition, young people who experience strong developmental relationships are more likely to report a wide range of social-emotional strengths and indicators of well-being and thriving, they are more resilient in the face of stress and trauma, and do better overall when they experience a strong web of relationships with many people, such as those that can flourish in extracurricular settings (Roehlkepartain et al., 2017). The National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (2015) reports that no matter what a child experiences in life, the single most important finding is that children who end up thriving in life, have had at least one stable and caring relationship with a supportive parent, adult, or caregiver. ...
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Minnesota 4-H Youth Development has been engaging young people for over 100 years, offering high-quality learning experiences that further support and empower youth as leaders. In today’s ever-changing global society, the demographic makeup of communities continually evolves and youth-serving organizations must remain committed to providing accessible and inclusive positive youth development experiences for all young people, particularly the most vulnerable and those who have historically been left in the margins. Minnesota 4-H Youth Development professionals are committed to serving diverse youth and families, yet there is progress to be made. To better understand challenges and successes of working to increase equity across the Minnesota 4-H Youth Development program, nine staff members participated in research interviews to deMinnesota 4-H Youth Development has been engaging young people for over 100 years, offering high-quality learning experiences that further support and empower youth as leaders. In today’s ever-changing global society, the demographic makeup of communities continually evolves and youth-serving organizations must remain committed to providing accessible and inclusive positive youth development experiences for all young people, particularly the most vulnerable and those who have historically been left in the margins. Minnesota 4-H Youth Development professionals are committed to serving diverse youth and families, yet there is progress to be made. To better understand challenges and successes of working to increase equity across the Minnesota 4-H Youth Development program, nine staff members participated in research interviews to describe their experiences, insights, approaches, and efforts when working to serve the needs of youth and families across Minnesota while working on behalf of a larger institutional organization. This study determined a multitude of factors to consider when working to increase diversity, access, inclusion, and equity across Minnesota 4-H Youth Development.scribe their experiences, insights, approaches, and efforts when working to serve the needs of youth and families across Minnesota while working on behalf of a larger institutional organization. This study determined a multitude of factors to consider when working to increase diversity, access, inclusion, and equity across Minnesota 4-H Youth Development.
... PYD is inseparable from the competencies for the 21 st century (Delivering OVEP Playbook, 2018) and it is represented in HEM6, HEM9, HEM2. Relationship as the key precondition for motivation (Roehlkepartain, Pekel, Syvertsen, Sethi, Sullivan, & Scales, 2017) is represented in HEM4, HEM5, HEM6. After instrument calibration, the final instrument has been finalized in ten variables (Table 2.). ...
Conference Paper
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The research had the aim of determining existence of gender differences of preschool children, and differences within subsamples in motor abilities influenced by the state of nourishment. Classification of the state of nourishment was done according to the body mass index (BMI), based on the percentage values of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, (2000). The whole sample included 188 respondents of the average height (BH=124.59cm±5.76) and weight (BW=24.32kg±3.11) age 6.39±0.44, out of which boys (n=107) and girls (n=81). The system of non-experimental research and correlation ex post facto system were used. The battery of seven motor tests were used according to the theoretical model of Kurelic et al., (1975) and Gredelj et al., (1975), taken from the research (Bala i Popovic, 2007), and the body composition was estimated by bioelectrical impedance of the machine InBody 230 (Bio space Co., Ltd, Seul, Korea). Results of the research show that presence of insufficiently nourished children is 10.64%, well nourished 72.34%, risky obese 9,57% and obese children 7.44%, and that there are gender differences in motor abilities, when we put aside their state of nourishment, significantly expressed in favour of average values of boys in coordinating, repetitive and explosive strength. Analysis of the body composition proved that there were significant gender differences in favour of boys considering muscle weight and water in the body. Within subsamples formed on the basis of nutritional status, no significant differences in motor skills were observed in boys, while girls' groups differed significantly in explosive power and flexibility. There were no significant differences considering body composition of boys, but there were significant differences of the body composition of girls expressed in insufficient nourished and sufficient nourished girls in comparison to risky obese and obese girls. Research findings show that there are a satisfactory percentage of normally nourished children and that linearity of their state of nourishment goes in accordance with their motor status, growth and redevelopment. On the other hand there are differences of motor abilities, appearing at this age expressed. The authors stress that there are greater differences and variables in respect of the state of nourishment, body composition and motor abilities of children which can be accepted in the pre-puberty and puberty phase in the next phase.
... (The exact domains and their labels may vary slightly; but this is a widely-used set of categories.) Sometimes a fifth domain is suggested, e.g., Relationships because Relationships get left the capacity to have healthy relationships is bedrock to development (Roehlkepartain et al. 2017;Garris and Weber 2018). & Where it makes sense, standard age breaks are being used to report on indicators, specifically, 0-5, 6-11, and 12-17. ...
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Tracking the well-being of children is as important to a country as monitoring the economy. In fact, some day, today’s children will be in charge, and it is critical to know how children in varied groups and communities are developing. Fortunately, enormous progress in measuring and monitoring children's well-being has been made in recent decades in the United States (U.S) at the national level and, to a lesser extent, at the state level. However, efforts to describe children’s well-being at the community level have been uneven and varied. Also, research is needed to assess the appropriateness of available measures in diverse population subgroups. Robust yet brief measures of children’s social and emotional outcomes are needed; and brief measures of the contextual factors that influence children’s outcomes continue to be in short supply. The purpose of this paper is to describe the experience of one country over four decades, as the lessons learned may be informative to others.
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The present study adopts The Developmental Assets and Positive Youth Development (PYD) perspectives which (in contrast to the deficit-based approaches which highlight risks and deficit in youth development) claim that young people have potencies to achieve optimal development if supported by their social environment. Extant research indicates that developmental assets are linked with a variety of thriving indicators. The present research aimed to contribute to the PYD research by examining the external developmental assets (support, empowerment, and boundaries and expectations) emerging adults ( N = 2055; age range = 18–28) perceived in their social environment and the level of their positive identity in four countries (Norway, Romania, Slovenia and Turkey), which have different rankings in economic, human, and youth development indices. The present study also tested a path model, which examines the links between external development assets and positive identity. Findings indicated that although there are differences in the reports of external developmental assets and positive identity, external assets and positive identity are similarly and positively linked across the four countries. The findings build on the existing literature by showing that developmental assets are conducive to positive outcomes cross-nationally despite country-level differences in the experience of external assets. Policy implications of the findings were discussed from the perspective of ecological theory as well as Developmental Assets and Positive Youth Development Frameworks.
The number of young people living in the margins of society reflects one of the most pressing social inequities of our time. Opportunity youth often face many complex challenges perpetrated by a range of systemic issues. These trajectories can be positively disrupted by surrounding youth with a cohesive web of relational and instrumental supports and spaces where their strengths and potential are seen. Opportunity Reboot, a technical assistance and program enhancement model, was developed to leverage the existing capacity and strengths of community programs to more effectively create pathways to school, career, and life success for opportunity youth. The impact of Opportunity Reboot was tested using a single-group, non-experimental design and a quasi-experimental design with propensity score matching. Findings established associations between opportunity youths' experiences of three core Opportunity Reboot features and growth in select positive identity, social-emotional competencies, and skills for systems navigation outcomes. Opportunity Reboot youth were also more likely, on average, than comparison youth to be employed in the four quarters after endline data collection; this finding was even stronger when comparing youth of color in the Opportunity Reboot and comparison groups. This evaluation strengthens the evidence that program enhancement models like Opportunity Reboot hold promise for positively disrupting the lives of opportunity youth.
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In the midst of growing national interest in strengthening children’s “soft” or social-emotional skills as critical for learning, work, and life, this study of 1,085 parenting adults of 3 to 13 year olds from across the United States highlights the power of family relationships as a critical, but often neglected, factor in the development of character strengths in children. The study introduces Search Institute’s framework of developmental relationships, which are defined as are close connections through which young people develop the character strengths they need to grow up successfully. Among the key findings is that the quality of parent-child relationships is 10 times more powerful than demographics (race, ethnicity, family composition, and family income) in predicting whether children are developing critical character strengths they need for success in school and life. These strengths include being motivated to learn, being responsible, and caring for others.
This chapter presents an extensive literature review and data from a sample of more than 30,000 children and youth from 30 countries, showing that young people worldwide do not experience an adequate level of developmental relationships with nonfamily adults that feature (a) care, (b) challenge, (c) support, (d) sharing of power with adults, and (e) expansion of young people's possibilities. Young people who experience high-quality developmental relationships with nonfamily adults are significantly better offon a variety of well-being indicators, including positive identity, workforce readiness, educational attainment, spiritual development, and sexual responsibility. It is concluded that nonfamily adults represent a vast, largely untapped, resource for positive youth development and well-being globally. Implementing policies and practices to measure, track, and build those developmental relationships may be a relatively low-cost way to both promote youth well-being and efficiently multiply the positive impact of existing international aid and humanitarian investments.
Using latent class growth analysis, we were interested in investigating how experiences of loneliness emerge in distinct developmental patterns over the course of middle childhood and adolescence (NICHD Study of Early Child Care, N = 832). Second, we examined the role of demographic, mental health, and behavioral variables in association with these discrete patterns of loneliness. Loneliness was measured at 3 time points: age 9, age 11, and age 15. Results indicated five discrete trajectories of loneliness from middle childhood to adolescence. Most children exhibited a stable and low level of loneliness over time. The remaining children were split among moderate increasing, high increasing, decreasing, and chronic loneliness groups. Ethnicity, income, age 7 social skills, age 7 depression, and age 7 aggression were associated with trajectory membership. In addition, the loneliness trajectories predicted self-reports of social skills deficits, depression, aggression, and suicidal ideation at age 15.