Best Practices: Relationship Building with Teens

I was lucky to be able to attend the 2015 YALSA Symposium a few weeks ago in Portland, Oregon. I highly recommend both attending a YALSA Symposium and visiting Portland, by the way.  One of the recurring themes regardless of the topic of the particular session was the importance of building relationships with teen patrons. A lot of presenters had excellent ways to start such as learning as many names as possible, attending school events if you can, and partnering with other youth agencies, but I came away wondering what do best practices look like for relationship building?

YALSA’s Core Professional Values for the Teen Services Profession 

New this year the document pinpoints nine core values and gives examples of how they might play out in our day to day work. If we practice collaboration, compassion, inclusion, and integrity in our interactions with teens then we will be well on our way to building excellent professional relationships.

The nine values are:

  • Accountability
  • Collaboration
  • Compassion
  • Excellence
  • Inclusion
  • Innovation
  • Integrity
  • Professional Duty
  • Social Responsibility

Search Institute Developmental Relationships Framework

Most of you are familiar with Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets, but they also have a Developmental Relationships Framework of 20 actions that make a relationship developmentally beneficial. Those 20 actions fall under five big concepts:

  • Express CARE
  • CHALLENGE Growth
  • Provide SUPPORT
  • Share POWER

Make some time to read through both of the full documents and pick just one or two things you can do better in the next quarter to build better relationships with your teens.


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