Blog Archive

Building Relationships

We believe that building developmental relationships with young people is the single most influential thing adults can do to help them succeed.

We know from our research that there’s a strong correlation between kids having strong developmental relationships in their lives and their likelihood to become thriving and contributing adults. But we also know that there are many kids who don’t have enough of these transformative relationships in their lives. 

Publish Date: 2017-Jul-20

Building Relationships

Much of Search Institute’s past research on relationships has shown their value in the lives of youth, and how kids experience better outcomes when these relationships are strong.

Our research is now shifting to how we can help families, organizations and communities that work with kids build these relationships.

Search Institute recently interviewed 55 leaders of youth programs, schools, community coalitions and policy makers—a diverse sample of organizations that work with kids—and asked several questions. The two lead questions were:

Publish Date: 2017-Jul-13

Developmental Relationships, SCA, programs for teens, sparks

With summer here, many kids are participating in camps, summer programs, and other activities. These spaces are great places for young people to build new friendships with peers and strong developmental relationships with adults. 

For the past several years, Search Institute has been partnering with the Student Conservation Association (SCA). SCA is a nonprofit organization that recruits hundreds of youth and young adults annually to participate...

Publish Date: 2017-Jun-28

family engagement,parent involvement plan, ESSA, developmental relationships, transition to middle school, engaging with families

Family engagement efforts often begin with policy makers, researchers, and professionals determining what families need to do. Then messages are developed that will generate “buy-in,” support, and participation. They treat parents as consumers, who must be “sold” an agenda in order to be successful in achieving their goals.

But when we authentically take time to listen to and build an understanding of parenting adults and children through interviews, focus groups, surveys, and other methods, we are much more likely to abandon stereotypes or assumptions and to partner with them in ways that are more meaningful and more effective...

Publish Date: 2017-Jun-15

transition to middle school or high school

What is Expanding Possibilities?

Expanding possibilities for teens means “connect me with people and  places that broaden my world.” These three everyday actions expand possibilities as kids transition to middle or high school:

  • Inspire me to see possibilities for my future.
  • Broaden horizons in my world by exposing me to new ideas, experiences, and places.
  • Connect me to others by introducing me to people who can help me grow.
Publish Date: 2017-Jun-08

transition to middle school or high school

As many parents of teens will tell you, power struggles are common with kids as they enter their middle school years. 

All good relationships involve a give and take. Kids learn and grow when they have a voice in the family and are part of making decisions that affect them. How we share power—and how that changes as our kids grow up—prepares them to be responsible, contributing adults. But parents may have different expectations than young people have about when, where, and how to share power.

Publish Date: 2017-Jun-01

transition to middle school or high school

When they’re young, children depend on their parents for almost everything. But as they transition to middle school and can do more on their own, there are particular ways parents can support them while they learn to trust their own judgment and grow more independent. 

Even though kids may become more skilled than their parents at some things (such as school subjects, computers, language or other talents), they still need their support. 

But the ways parents provide support needs to shift...


Publish Date: 2017-May-25

transition to middle school or high school

We all need nudges that push us to work hard on achieving our goals--teens are no exception. We can challenge teens and tweens to grow as they transition to middle and high school by pushing them beyond what’s comfortable, raising questions, and testing their abilities in ways that are demanding, stimulating, and motivating. We also help them keep heading in a positive direction by setting appropriate limits.


Publish Date: 2017-May-18

transition to middle school or high school

During the transition to middle or high school, relationships take on new importance. Teens do best when they have strong relationships with their families. But navigating those years can come with some challenges for parents and teens alike.

In part 2 of our 6-part series about developmental relationships, we look at how parents can express care to their newly independent preteen or teen. [FREE DOWNLOAD]

Publish Date: 2017-May-04

transition to middle school or high school

Transitions to high school or middle school and high school are times of big change--both for parents and students. With new opportunities and and challenges come new worries and stresses. 

And it’s an easy time for parents and youth to grow disconnected as outside demands, expectations, and shifts in their relationships pull them apart. 

But keeping the relationship strong between parents and youth is essential at this age. Young people who experience strong relationships with their parenting adults are more likely to report a wide range of social and emotional strengths and other indicators of thriving. 

Kids still value the parent’s involvement in their life as they transition to middle school or high school, but in different ways, as the relationships evolve. 

But how to stay connected to kids and keep...

Publish Date: 2017-May-04