Building Healthy Relationships with Youth Part 1 by Kelly Noftz

What do youth need to build healthy relationships? Time, Trust and togetherness!

Positive relationships with caring adults are essential to the healthy development of youth. Youth need trusting and caring relationships with supportive adults to help them navigate the sometimes troubled waters of childhood, adolescence and young adulthood.

Building and strengthening positive relationships takes trust. Trust is built through many positive interactions, experiences and exchanges where the expectations we have for others are repeatedly confirmed and validated. Building trust takes a commitment of time and togetherness in shared positive experiences. When the behavior of others does not match our expectations, trust can be lost in a relationship, quickly.

In his famously successful book, The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, Steven Covey describes a trusting relationship with this metaphor: an emotional bank account. This bank account represents the quality, or investment in the relationship people have with one another. An emotional bank account is similar to a real bank account where individuals make deposits and withdrawls. However, in an emotional bank account, the currency or investments are the positive behaviors, words, and deeds that build trust in the relationship. Withdrawls are the behaviors that undermine and decrease the level of trust. When the relationship’s emotional bank account is healthy and trust is high, the relationship has the reserves it needs to see it through rocky periods. If rocky times persist and the emotional bank account becomes depleted, repeated withdrawls from these emotional reserves can bankrupt the relationship.

As we head toward the end of our lazy days of summer, invest in your relationships with youth. Take TIME to build TRUST by sharing positive experiences and conversations TOGETHER.

Make TIME for youth. It takes a commitment of quality time to build the bonds of trust.

TRUST is the glue that holds relationships together.

Engage often with young people (TOGETHERNESS) in cooperative and collaborative ways.

Adapted from:  Engage Every Student, by Elizabeth Kirby and Jill McDonald Published by Search Institute Press

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