Healthy Peabody Collaborative

Sandi Drover, middle row fourth from left, with Healthy Peabody Collaborative student leaders at Higgins Middle School.

Editor's Note: This is the third in a weekly series of practical tips from the Healthy Peabody Collaborative on how to strengthen the positive relationships that are essential to young people’s growth, learning and thriving.

At the Healthy Peabody Collaborative, we work to intentionally build the qualities, experiences, and relationships young people need to grow up healthy, caring and responsible. We use the Search Institute 40 Developmental Assets, a research based framework, and follow their philosophy of focusing on the strengths of young people — rather than the deficits — so they can build on what they’re already doing right.
The Search Institute’s newest work focuses on helping young people be and become their best selves by strengthening the positive relationships in their lives, including relationships with parents, peers, teachers, mentors, youth workers and others. These “Developmental Relationships” are the close connections through which young people discover who they are, cultivate abilities to shape their own lives, and learn how to engage and contribute to the world around them.
The Search Institute has identified five elements, expressed in actions, that make relationships powerful in young people’s lives. In honor of mental health awareness month and the great asks that have been put on adults in the lives of children while we’re all trying to practice physical distance with social warmth, we will outline these elements and give practical tips for strengthening these developmental relationships.
The third element is to Provide Support. Young people need us to help them complete tasks and achieve goals. We can do this by guiding them through hard situations and systems, build their confidence to take charge of their life, defend them when needed, and to put in place limits to keep them on track. To break it down even further, here are some actionable tips from the Search Institute Developmental Relationships Framework.
All adults can:
  1. Offer information and practical help to solve a practical problem, or loan them something they may need.
  2. Show young people how to ask for help when they need it.
  3. Shift levels of support. Give more support when young people are struggling, and less when they are making progress.
Young people can:
  1. When a friend can’t figure out how to solve a problem, offer to talk it out.
  2. Offer your support when friends face challenges. If needed, ask a trusted adult to be an ally and resource.
Parenting adults can:
  1. When you teach your child a new skill, demonstrate it by breaking it into smaller steps.
  2. When your children are not getting the help they need, find people who can address the issue.
Teachers can:
  1. Provide specific and descriptive feedback for students to use toward their improvement.
  2. Teach strategies for performing and learning under pressure.
Youth program leaders can:
  1. Help young people think through options and resources when they encounter obstacles.
  2. Show young people how to ask for help when they need it.
Next in this series: Share Power
See for more about the developmental relationships and the 40 Developmental Asset Frameworks. Follow Healthy Peabody Collaborative on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information about HPC.
Sandi Drover is the outreach coordinator at the Healthy Peabody Collaborative. Contact her at

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