The Minneapolis-based Search Institute created the Developmental Relationships Framework aimed at fostering “close connections through which young people discover who they are, cultivate abilities to shape their own lives, and learn how to engage with and contribute to the world around them.”

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I’ve read and re-read the elements of the framework, and I find them incredibly affirming of what our teachers believe in and offer their students at Buckingham Friends School each and every day, and as they encourage both current and former students to move forward in their lives.  For me, they also express a series of guiding beacons for everyone as they raise, encourage, and work with children of all ages.

The Framework has five elements, each with specific actions that make relationships powerful:

Express care: Show me that I matter to you:

  • 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.

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 mistakes and setbacks.

Provide support: Help me complete tasks and achieve goals:

  • Guide me through hard situations and systems.
  • Help me build my confidence and take charge of my life.
  • Stand up for me when I need it.
  • Put limits in place that keep me on track.

Share power: Treat me with respect and give me a say:

  • 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 lead.

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, experiences, and places.
  • Introduce me to people who can help me grow.

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