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Mel Gravely

Relationship-Based Competencies: Positive, Goal-Oriented Relationships

positive goal oriented relationshipsFor the first blog in our series about relationship-based competencies, we’re going to discuss positive, goal-oriented relationships.

Creating positive relationships with the families that we serve is a key point in assisting them to become self-sufficient. From our first interaction with families to the last, the relationships that we build will stay with them for a lifetime. To create positive and goal-oriented relationships, one must continuously engage in mutually respectful interactions with children and families. These positive and respectful interactions will promote nurturing parent-child relationships and family well-being.

Like most of the relationship-based competencies, positive relationship building happens with every interaction, from day one. Think about all the ways that you can make parents feel welcome in your program, as well as how you can clearly communicate expectations at the beginning in order to achieve goals. Think about each of the following scenarios:

  • When parents learn about our programs at recruitment event.
    – The key here is to be prepared for a variety of different individuals from different backgrounds to attend your event, and understand what program goals might be most important to them. For example, how might you communicate the history of Head Start differently with millennial parents vs grandparents?
  • When parents stop into our centers to find out more about the different services we provide.
    – What are some common concerns that parents come in with? By preparing this information beforehand you’ll be ready to answer their questions in a timely and respectful way.
  • The first home visits that are made with the families
    – Don’t begin your visit with a lecture. More than any other time, a home visit is the most important to listen, listen, listen.
  • Moments when the parents come into the centers to participate in center activities, or volunteer in the classroom.
    – Make sure to gather suggestions from volunteers before the event and incorporate their useful input. Also, ask for their feedback on ways to improve activities afterwards.
  • Daily, there are so many ways to build meaningful relationships with each and every family.
    – In particular, practice your phone and email skills. Especially with email, it can be easy for parents to misinterpret meaning since emails lack body language cues and tone.

Constructing these relationships takes effort from both staff and the family, but it is up to the Head Start/Early Head Start staff to meet families where they are, give them the tools that they need to be successful when it comes to achieving their goals, and becoming life-long educators for their children. Upon working with families, staff have to make the families feel welcome, safe and respected. When families feel comfortable, they are able to focus on the important issues in their lives and what they want to achieve for their families.

The goal setting should focus on a number of topics:

  • Health
  • Nutrition
  • Parent-child interactions
  • Mental health
  • Family literacy
  • Financial literacy

These topics are at the core of self sufficiency. Guiding families in their journey, helping them find their strengths and their weaknesses and most importantly exposing them to resources that can assist them in their individual journeys.


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