5+ years 

PYD – Now that your Little is not so little, there is typically a shift in goal setting from Guardian lead to more of a collaboration. Littles always have input on match goals, but as teens they may have a clearer picture of immediate and long-term goals. Some of these goals may include post school plans.

Safety/Setting Limits  – Safety concerns look different with an older Little. Understanding the Secrets and Confidences safety rule is always important, but can become less clear on what should be shared with Match Support and their Guardian as they start to share about aspects of a teen social life. There can be changes in other guidelines like car safety; they can not only sit in the front now but may ask you to help them learn to drive. The later years of a match may have you reaching out to Match Support to check in on clarifying safety more than you have in the past few years of your match, but this is a normal part of having a longer match, and a Little who trusts you as a friend.

Communication /Rapport  –  Little might be more of an adult or peer friend at this point. Your match outings may have shifted from you taking Little out and entertaining them, to meeting for coffee and talking about school, teen issues, or both talking about work. It is a chance for you to model for them how an adult friendship works with more grown-up activities and conversation topics.

Communication has most likely completely shifted from Guardian to Little, with Little reaching out and the two of you making your own plans. You may also have to rely on Little for updates on school and social activities.

Building trust is an important part of any relationship, for more guidance around this please check out of Bigs Guide to Building Trust.

Establishing Routines – The routines you may have set just a couple of years ago may no longer be possible anymore. There is a good chance that you have to work around Little’s schedule, not just yours and Guardian’s/the family’s. Little may be spending time with peers, playing sports, involved in clubs, have a job, or other responsibilities that would change the routine you have worked to create. While this may mean seeing each other less, it allows you to show them you can still be friends even though you are busy. You can make a new outing schedule together, and work on communication and planning skills.

Navigating Challenges – Challenges with longer matches can include scheduling with Little’s more independent routine, keeping in communication with Guardian now that Little is more independent, judging when to loop in Guardian on Secrets and Confidences/teen issues.

As you and your Little are building trust and rapport it can be helpful to know what your Little needs to best express themselves and feel safe to practice Positive Youth Development (PYD) skills in your match. Click here for more information.