Nurturing relationships is a skill

You may not think nurturing relationships is a skill developed through 4-H, but it can be! Youth experience nurturing relationships when they form a connection with another individual(s) and all mutually benefit. Learn more about developing this skill.

Youth experience nurturing relationships when they form a connection with another individual or individuals. Photo credit: Pixabay.

Youth experience nurturing relationships when they form a connection with another individual or individuals. Photo credit: Pixabay.

Michigan State University Extension 4-H volunteers help youth reach their full potential by teaching life skills. Many of the life skills that members gain through their 4-H participation are identified in the Iowa State University Targeting Life Skills Model. This resource is for 4-H volunteers to use with 4-H members to help connect life skills learned through their 4-H projects to real like experiences. Through the provided age-appropriate discussion questions, volunteers can help youth connect their hands-on 4-H experiences with life skills learned and how to apply them to real life situations.

You may not think of “nurturing relationships” as a skill that can be developed through participation in 4-H youth development programs, but it can! Youth experience nurturing relationships when they form a connection with another individual or individuals. In that relationship, all individuals mutually benefit, each providing care and attention for the other. Nurturing relationship often includes:

  • Feeling included and experiencing a sense of belonging
  • Assisting others to feel wanted
  • Contributing to the well-being of others
  • Staying in good communication with others
  • Sharing interests and goals

4-H youth development programs specialize in creating opportunities for youth that are age-appropriate. This means that children and youth develop at different rates and programs and skill development opportunities will match a child’s age with their emotional and physical abilities. As adapted by the Iowa State University Targeting Life Skills Training Manual, when developing the skill of nurturing relationships, the following are guidelines for age appropriate skills:

Ages 5-8

  • Has a “best friend”
  • Is able to identify characteristics of a friend
  • Seeks guidance from caring adults
  • Recognizes and reacts to the emotions of others

Ages 9-11

  • Wants approval, support and acceptance from caring adults
  • Forms loyal friendships
  • Seeks appropriate mentors and role models

Ages 12-14

  • Builds positive relationships with peers and adults
  • Practices assertiveness

Ages 15-19

  • Forms relationships for life
  • May form intimate relationships
  • Is able to be a good role model and mentor

4-H volunteers also utilize the Missouri 4-H Experiential Learning Model and Processing Questions to help the youth they work with process and think about the skills they are learning in their 4-H projects. Suggested age-appropriate processing questions related to the skill of nurturing relationships include:

5- to 8-year-olds

  • How did it feel to do this activity?
  • How did others help you____________?

9- to 11-year-olds

  • How did you work together with your group to _______________?
  • Why is it important for other people to know _______________?

12- to 14-year-olds

  • What did the “leader” do to make you feel he or she was the group leader?
  • Why is it important that each person have his/her own view?

15- to 19-year-olds

  • What works best to get people involved and excited about doing this type of activity?
  • How would you teach someone about this activity or concept?

Read other articles about important life skills learned in 4-H, including: Wise use of resources is a skill and Self-motivation is a skill.

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