How to Build Strong Relationships With Young People

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How to Build Strong Relationships With Young People

5 Tips for Building Strong Relationships With Young People you work with

Being conscious

As a youth worker we are conscious about forming strong relationships with young people that we come in contact with in every aspect of our work on a daily basis. We know that for a fact that It is without a doubt an essential component to success in building a good rapport with your young people. 

You know that the relationships you’ve formed with various types of young people in many different areas of your youth work setting will serve as a foundation for you creating strong ties with young people.

As a youth practitioner you must always reflect on what truly makes a relationship last.

Sometimes forging good relationships may seem so simple on the surface, but these ties require time, effort and tact. Developing and maintaining these connections with your young people can sometimes feel draining and even burdensome, however the rewards is significant to say the least.

A personal connection, whether developed over weeks, months or years, can lead to positive, healthy bond between you and your young person. In return you will earn the super youth worker respect from your young people; most importantly they will see you as a role model. You will also see that young people are more open and honest when coming for advice or guidance. I believe this is the most rewarding for any youth workers out there.

I have come across in my career as a qualified youth and community worker, the basic things that we sometimes take for granted plays a big part in the way we work and build a positive relationship with young people. So therefore fundamentally there are five basic rules if practiced on a regular basis will keep you on the top of the list of any young people you work with. Keep the following tips in mind and strengthen the most important aspect of your work with young people. (i.e. the relationships you have with your young people in your youth centre or youth club:

1. Treat others the way you want to be treated. This classic lesson seems like the simplest of tasks: Yet it is often the one forgotten. When engaging with young people in your youth project, yourselves in the young person’s shoes and provide the same level of service and respect that you would want.

2. Honesty is key. Stretching the truth about you or the services you are managing or delivering in any way can seriously hinder your reputation. If you can be honest and realistic about any services that you cannot provide, your young people will appreciate this and a foundation for a lasting relationship can develop.

3. Remember that your young people are humans, not numbers. After a first conversation with a young person, remember not only the name but something about the individual as a person. Remembering a fact about the person will prompt you to recall how your youth centre/project can suit the young person’s or the groups needs. And these little details can have a big impact on building the relationship. I cannot emphasize more on the importance of this as young people have a tendency to see through your intentions. Don’t let the targets get in the way of you developing a strong relationship with your young people. 

4. Keep things lighthearted. Nothing is more upsetting than not being yourself with your young people and trying to act like them. Don’t try to act like them as you are not their age that’s a fact. You want to build a relationship that young people know when you’re serious and when you’re not. Having fun with young people is not wrong but being too friendly without boundaries, that is wrong for a fact.

5. Be cognizant of body language. Young people can tell, consciously and subconsciously, how you feel about being around them. Keeping your arms and legs uncrossed, smiling and making eye contact are great ways to ensure that your young people remembers interacting with you. Pay attention to what the young person is saying and mirror back to them what they have said to you.

You know you’re young people who are unique and should be treated as such. Often the best tactic is to just be yourself and not over think things. Take a genuine interest in a relationship and the rest will take care of itself.

While meaningful relationships, professional or otherwise, require significant time and effort to build, they often fall apart much more quickly. Take a relationship for granted, expect too much or appear apathetic, and rapport will deteriorate in a hurry.

Forming long-lasting, meaningful relationships is vital to any youth work organization’s success. So avoid these pitfalls to instead reap the rewards of positive, mutually beneficial relationships throughout your career.

The key thing here is to be honest and open with young people. As a youth worker yourself it’s good practice for you to become more reflective in your work. This will help you to become more better at your work and identify your personal development needs in order for you to develop your career.

So the action for you now will be to go back and think of ways you can become more reflective in your practice. Make a habit of recording or keeping a simple journal which you can go back to evaluate yourself. If you don’t think about your own career needs trust me no one else will.

By Magret Jones 

Retired youth worker 

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