Ohio Department of Education Topic News

Know! Positive Relationships Build Character


One of the greatest gifts you can give your children cannot be bought online or in-store. While it is not likely to be on their holiday wish list, this gift is likely to bring your children greater happiness with lifelong benefits. We are talking about the gift of positive relationships and character development.

ThinkstockPhotos-105662948.jpgIn 2013, Search Institute began a multi-year project based on their creation of the Developmental Relationships Framework, which examines the close connections in children’s lives - parents, peers, mentors, teachers and other caring adults – and the impact they have on character development. Significant relationships in a child’s life are associated with their motivation to learn and take personal responsibility for their actions. Also, youth with strong, positive relationships are shown to be more resilient when faced with stress and trauma - which can otherwise lead to risky and dangerous behavioral coping strategies (like drinking, smoking and using other drugs).

The idea behind the Developmental Relationships Framework is to consistently surround young people with positive, supportive relationships to help them thrive; in their families, schools, programs and neighborhoods.

The Search Institute provides the following five fundamental elements as part of the relationship-strengthening framework and shares specifics on how parents, teachers, coaches, etc. can act on them:

1. Express Care: Show me that I matter to you
Be dependable; Really pay attention when we’re together; Make me feel known and valued; Show me you enjoy being with me; Encourage me; Praise me for my efforts and achievements

2. Challenge Growth: Push me to keep getting better
Expect me to live up to my potential; Push me to go further; Insist I take responsibility for my actions; Help me learn from my mistakes and failures

3. Provide Support: Help me complete tasks and achieve goals
Guide me through difficult situations; Empower me to take charge of my life; Defend me when I need it; Set boundaries to keep me on track

4. Share Power: Treat me with respect and give me a say
Take me seriously and treat me fairly; Include me in decisions that affect me; Collaborate with me to solve problems and reach goals; Create opportunities for me to take action and lead

5. Expand Possibilities: Connect me with people and places that broaden my world
Inspire me to see possibilities for my future; Expose me to new ideas, people, experiences and places; Connect me with more people who can help me develop and thrive

A young person with a sense of purpose, self-worth and self-respect, who feels loved and supported, is much more likely to experience success in school and work, care about their community, and excel in other areas of life. So as you’re making your lists and checking them twice this holiday season, keep the above list in mind, as it promises to be the gift that keeps on giving.

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Return to the Ohio Department of Education’s Start Talking! webpage.

Click here to learn more about Developmental Relationships through Search Institute.

Source: Search Institute: The Developmental Relationships Framework.