We all need support in life, because the never-ending ups and downs of growing up is hard on us all! By tapping into the third pillar of Developmental Relationships — providing support — we can help each other navigate whatever life throw’s our way. An important way people stick together is helping each other in practical ways to stay on track to learn, grow, complete tasks, and achieve goals. Through praising other’s efforts and achievements, providing feedback to help each other learn, being examples that we all can learn from and admire, and standing up for one another when we need it, we provide support to those we care for. The following activities and tips focus on this kind of support!


Tips for providing support:

  1. Praise your friend for their hard work, whether they succeed or fail.
  2. Encourage your loved one to try new things they might be interested in. If they are afraid to try something new because they’re worried it might be too hard, explain that everyone has to start somewhere. Tell them that if they try something challenging and it doesn’t go well, it doesn’t mean they failed. It is just an opportunity to try again and get better.
  3. When you teach your co-worker a skill, demonstrate it by breaking it into smaller steps.
  4. Model the values, attitudes, and behaviors you want people to follow.
  5. Talk with your child about the need to do some things that you don’t want to do in order to be able to do the things you do want to do. Share stories of things you do that you didn’t (or don’t) enjoy but that you did to enable you to achieve other goals that were important to you.

Relationship builder activity: Help reach a goal

Help a very important person in your life select a goal that they want to achieve and that you are going to work together to accomplish. Select an intermediate goal that will take weeks (not days or years) to complete. It could involve schoolwork or a favorite activity, but it needs to be a goal this person has, not one you want them to accomplish. Work with them to brainstorm the benefits of achieving the goal. Then brainstorm obstacles to achieving it. Studies have shown that identifying both the benefits and the obstacles at the same time makes it more likely the goal will be achieved. Then help this important person think of ways to remove the obstacles if and when they are encountered. Finally, help them break the goal down into smaller steps that will lead toward the larger goal. Help them set a date for reaching the goal. While this person is working to achieve the goal, check in regularly to see how things are going. If they reach the goal, celebrate the accomplishment and ask them to think about why they succeeded. If they did not achieve the objective, celebrate the effort and discuss what they could do differently in the future to increase the chances of successfully completing goals. Whether they reached the goal or not, ask them to share what they learned, enjoyed, or found most interesting as they were working on their goal.

Activity: Talk About It

How do you respond when you see an important person in your life being treated unfairly? Is it different if they’re being treated unfairly by their friends, youth, teachers, other adults, or some larger system (such as police, or schools)?

What are ways we encourage, guide, model, and advocate for each other? What kinds of mutual support from others do we most appreciate?

Dig deeper by reading The Search Institute’s blog post on “How to Support Young People.”