When we as adults/professionals are attempting to connect with a youth and build a healthy relationship, we must be very careful, especially if the youth has experienced traumatic events or may be involved in the Juvenile Justice System.

Remember we are the adults and carry the responsibility of role modeling how to build that healthy relationship. There will always be relationships, but will they be healthy?

Remember youth may have experienced problems with parents or siblings, difficulties in school, conflicts with their peers, or may have involvement in the juvenile justice system.

Treat youths with dignity and respect at all times.

Building a relationship with a youth will not happen overnight, the relationship will grow and develop over time. Think of a relationship as a savings account. If all we do is remove money from the savings account, eventually it will be empty. So we must make as many deposits as we do withdrawals.

Listen to the youth without being judgmental. This provides the youth a way to vent and watch for your response. Can you be trusted? Also by “just” listening and showing interest this indirectly says I care about you. They may realize a solution or new insight into what is actually bothering them.

Keep promises, show up when you are suppose to, and if you can’t let the youth know as soon as you can. Let’s face it they may have heard every excuse in the book from other adults in their lives. When you show up on time, keep promises this indirectly again tells them you care.

Use honesty at all times when working on the relationship. Make sure you interact with them in a way that they can learn to trust you.

Be reminded that Dignity + Respect + Honesty = Trust. Trust is the key to any relationship!

Once you have connected with this youth you can have an incredible impact on helping them become who they want to be. By being that one person who has their back, a person they can depend on and a person who truly cares for them. Many times this is all another human being needs.

Sally Phipps – Mandt Faculty