Together We Thrive: Kid Healthy Week & the Importance of Strong Relationships with our Youth

Authored by Zach McDaniel, Prevention Educator for Talbert House Prevention Services serving Clinton & Warren County

Since 2013, the last week of April has been recognized by the National Health Observance as “Kid Healthy Week” and officially begins on Monday, April 26th 2021.  Each weekday focuses on a different component aimed at improving the health and wellness of our greatest asset, our youth. This year’s schedule is:

  • Mindful Monday; April 26th 2021: Social Emotional Health
  • Tasty Tuesday; April 27th 2021: Nutrition & Food Access
  • Wellness Wednesday; April 28th 2021: Self-Care Strategies
  • Thoughtful Thursday; April 29th 2021: Connectedness, Relationship Skills, and Social Awareness
  • Fitness Friday; April 30th 2021: Physical Activity & Active Play

Given the challenges of the last year, the inclusion of Social Emotional Health as well as Connectedness, Relationship Skills, and Social Awareness is critical to the youth of Lebanon and their continued health and wellness.  As adults, parents, family, coaches, and teachers; what can we do to help?

“Whether the burdens come from the hardships of poverty, the challenges of parental substance abuse or serious mental illness, the stresses of war, the threats of recurrent violence or chronic neglect, or a combination of factors, the single most common finding is that children who end up doing well have had at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult

-The National Scientific Council on the Developing Child

The Search Institute surveyed more than 120 thousand students from 2012-2015 and from their findings the answer may be to start with ourselves and our relationship to youth. From their Attitudes and Behaviors Survey they found that:

  • 33% of students report having positive family communication
  • 32% of students feel their community views youth as a valuable resource
  • 32% of students report family involvement in schooling
  • 25% of students report feeling as if their community values youth

Talbert House - Graph 1

Kids pay more attention to what we do rather than what we say. If we want our youth to feel connected, have strong relationship skills, and be resilient to the challenges of life we have to show them, not tell them. We need to be intentionally connecting and building developmental relationships with our youth. Unfortunately there is no shortcut when it comes to being a role model and building strong relationships, especially with kids, but it’s worth it!

Back to the basics
Building strong relationships with our youth isn’t rocket science, but it can be challenging if we aren’t being intentional and consistent. Below are the 5 components of a strong Developmental Relationship:

  • Express Care: Show me that I matter to you
  • Challenge Growth: Push me to keep getting better
  • Provide Support: Help me complete tasks and achieve goals
  • Share Power: Treat me with respect and give me a say
  • Expand Possibilities: Connect me with people and places that broaden my world

Getting Started – 4S Interview
Finding out where to begin is sometimes the hardest part, using the 4S Interview will help to better understand one another. This often leads to relatability and can be the building blocks of a strong developmental relationship. Additionally, these insights can help in expressing care, challenge growth, provide support, share power, and expand possibilities.  We suggest the interview be completed when ample time is available and with one youth rather than a group. This encourages a deeper and more impactful session. Additionally, the willingness of the adult to answer the questions as well can assist in relationship and trust building.

  1. Tell me about your Sparks (Passions)
  2. Tell me about your Strengths
  3. Tell me about your Struggles
  4. Tell me about your Supports

The goal of this interview is to better understand one another. This often leads to relatability and can be the building blocks of a strong developmental relationship. Additionally, these insights can help you in expressing care, challenging growth, providing support, sharing power, and expanding possibilities.

Does it work?
The developmental relationships framework was created by the Search Institute as a tool and resource for use in developing strong, positive relationships with youth. Their research finds that young people who experience strong developmental relationships have:

  • Increased academic motivation
  • Increased social-emotional Skills
  • Increased sense of personal responsibility
  • Reduced high-risk behaviors

Talbert House - Graph 2

About Talbert House Prevention Services of Clinton & Warren County
Prevention services develop strong, resilient individuals and communities. Based on the public health model, prevention services equip individuals with the necessary attitudes, behaviors and skills to achieve personal well-being, satisfaction and resilience. Using strength-based approaches and evidence-based models that are culturally aware and sustainable Talbert House works with partners to develop and strengthen conditions that ensure communities are safe places to live and thrive.

Prevention Education for youth and adults in schools and the community including the following topics:

  • Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) curriculum
  • Signs of Suicide (SOS) curriculum
  • Medication Safety
  • Low Risk Alcohol Use
  • Social Emotional Skills
  • Life Skills
  • Professional development/workplace workshops and trainings
  • Information on behavioral health topics and community resources

 For more information contact Zach McDaniel at