The Search Institute bridges research and practice to help young people become their best selves. Search Institute has compiled decades of research from young people on Developmental Assets. Across all of this research, one factor emerges: nothing is more important in the lives of young people than relationships.
After decades of forming hypotheses, conducting surveys, crafting and rewriting definitions, analyzing data, and writing journal articles, Search Institute researchers and practitioners have arrived at a surprisingly simple conclusion: nothing—nothing—has more impact in the life of a child than positive relationships.Peter L. Benson, Former Search Institute President and CEO (2010)
That’s why, since 2013 the Institute has focused their research on strong, positive relationships, which are called “developmental relationships.”
In his recent TEDx talk, Search Institute president and CEO Kent Pekel described relationships in kids’ lives as like the roots of a tree. “When kids have strong roots, they can grow, they can thrive, they can withstand the storms that life throws at them. But nonetheless a lot of kids are growing up like trees in soil that is not rich, that even has toxins in it, where they are not surrounded by those relationships that they need to thrive.”
There are five essential elements in developmental relationships that help kids be and become their best selves:
- Expressing Care
- Providing Support
- Challenging Growth
- Sharing Power
- Expanding Possibilities
Many people think they do relationships well. But in a recent study 40% of young people surveyed identified none or just one strong relationship in their lives.