Dr. Rich Patterson

Creating Relationships with Kids – II

We know that relationships with kids matter, but to know that and just try once in awhile is not enough.  We must know the ways that kids interact with others, including significant adults, in order to understand how to foster those relationships.  I would like to refer to Search Institute’s Developmental Relationships Framework (www.search-institute.org).  Element one of Search Institute’s framework is Express Care (www.search-institute.org).  How do we express that we care to a friend as an adult?

We might call them during the day just to see how things are going.  We could stop by their desk or maybe have lunch with them.  But most importantly, just to get even to that point we listen to them.  We hear them through when they express their crazy ideas, we support them by being positive.  It is the same with our kids.  When they express an idea that seems to need some additional work, you can say, ‘How can we tweak that a bit to make it work?’  Rather than saying, that is crazy, you can’t do that, that won’t work.  This process helps to create trust with the person because they feel safe with you.  They can be themselves and say what they are feeling.

Kids receive enough put downs and negative talk from their friends and for the most part, their confidence is already on shaky ground.  What they need is someone they can really talk with, say everything they are thinking without judgment.  By being that person you can count on you help them to think through their own incomplete ideas.  You show the person that you like taking time with them, that they matter to you and that they can come to you whenever they feel like it.  That is a good relationship–right?

One that we would all like to have, someone who is really there for us.  By being gentle with kids and helping them with their thoughts without being judgmental we help them to build confidence in themselves.  Then when you really need them to come to you and get some help, they are a lot more likely to do so because the relationship is already there.  I hope that you will continue on to Part III of this series.

Enjoy the process, it really is all we have anyway.