Afterschool is a "relationship-based business". Successful programs are built on the relationships held among staff, children and youth, parents and caregivers, school day staff and the community as a whole. Each one of these relationships is critical and is constantly being built. Building relationships require that each party in the relationship invest time, care, and belief. At C4K, we think that these are the essential three.
Time is important because first of all it takes time to build the affinity and understanding to really be in a relationship with another person (or entity in some cases). Secondly, time is important because in relationships it is not enough to just spend time "for" the other person, it is essential that you spend time "with" one another. It is in that time together that you deepen your understanding of who the person is, what the person values and believes in, and how this person navigates the world. By spending time together you can also begin to build collaborative goals and truly create a synergy between you.
Care is also an important factor in relationships. This isn’t the kind of care where someone takes care of you and tries to build your dependence upon them. It is the type of care that means as a person in a relationship, you follow-up and follow-through with the commitments you have made. It also means that as a supervisor, you will clear the obstacles that might impede the progress of another person because you have the positional power to make that happen. It is the kind of care that includes others by asking for input and feedback—the kind of care that builds another’s self-esteem and self-efficacy.
Belief, the final ingredient, is about believing that the relationship and the other person is "worth" the effort. It is holding others in unconditional positive regard and being firmly committed to the belief that the person you are investing time and care in has yet to recognize his/her full potential. You believe in the possibility o that person to "become."
When you build relationships based on time, care and belief, you will have relationships that will stand the test of time.
As a role model and mentor for children and youth, building relationships is essential. Please share with us at C4K the strategies you use to build positive relationships with the children and youth in your program. Send your information to firstname.lastname@example.org