The Power of Relationships

Our relationships with our kids are a powerful resource for helping them thrive

Relationships that  Help Our Kids Grow

Every family can build the kind of relationships that help kids thrive in life. We do this through the everyday ways we care for our family members.

Search Institute has been asking parents and kids about their relationships. What are they like? Why do they matter? What makes a difference?

What Are Developmental Relationships?

Out of this research grew the framework of developmental relationships. It identifies five relationship strategies that help kids feel motivated and do their best.

We asked 1,085 parents of 3 to 13 year olds from across the United States1 about these different actions. As you can see in the chart to the right, most parents say they Express Care, Challenge Growth, and Provide Support to their kids. However, fewer than half say they Share Power and Expand Possibilities.

Why Do These Relationships Matter?

When parents report that they have stronger relationships with their children, they are also more likely to say that their children are on track to thrive (see chart with circles). Thriving means being hopeful, goal-oriented, and having a sense of purpose. Children whose parents use the developmental relationships strategies are more likely to:

  • Be motivated to learn
  • Take personal responsibility
  • Manage their emotions well
  • Be able to concentrate and put in effort
  • Experience fewer behavioral problems, such as throwing temper tantrums or fighting
  • Help others and be concerned about other people1

What You Can Do

The good news is that all types of families from all kinds of backgrounds can build developmental relationships.

ParentFurther helps you strengthen relationships and put children on the path to thriving. It starts with relationships within the family, but it includes extended family and community connections.

You’ll find quizzes to reflect on how you’re doing. You will also find dozens of brief activities that can bring your family together.

So pick a relationship strategy from the menu on the left, and get started!

Research Sources

1 Pekel, K., Roehlkepartain, E. C., Syvertsen, A. K., & Scales, P. C. (in press). Developmental relationships: A new focus for family engagement. Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute.