Developmental Assets: The Building Blocks for Raising Healthy Youth

Since its creation in 1990, Search Institute’s framework of Developmental Assets has become the most widely used approach to positive youth development in the United States. The Developmental Assets are 40 common sense, positive experiences and qualities that help influence choices young people make and help them become caring, responsible, successful adults.
For a list of the assets and specific examples of what you can do to instill these assets in your teen, click here.

As a parent, you have the power to make sure that your children have as many of the 40 developmental assets as possible. Here is a list of 10 key assets that you as a parent are in a position to influence.

  1. Be a positive role model for your teen. You are your teen’s number one role model. Model hard work, a good attitude, healthy behaviors, and respect for others. For more ideas on how to be a positive role model, visit the Search Institute’s Developmental Assets page and click on “Take Action” under the “Adult Role Models” asset.
  2. Set and enforce family rules: Everyone needs rules—especially teens. Set some family rules and consequences and monitor your teen’s whereabouts. Healthy rules and boundaries create responsible, disciplined people. For tips on setting and enforcing boundaries with your teen, click here.
  3. Give your teen a lot of family support: High levels of love and support for your teen go a long way towards protecting them from risky behaviors. Your teen is more likely to succeed if he or she has many supportive adults in his or her life. For ideas on how to create a supportive team for your teen, click here.
  4. Foster positive family communication: Today’s families have to deal with many issues. Busier schedules, new technologies, and ever-changing day-to-day challenges are just a few of the things that you, as a parent, have to address. Fortunately, many of the issues you face can be made easier with open communication. By intentionally building good communication practices, you can ensure that your family remains strong, even when things get tough. For tips on building good family communication practices, click here.
  5. Teach your teen personal responsibility: Taking on new responsibilities and following through with them is an important part of growing up—but it can also be a difficult one. By helping your teen understand that responsibilities are a necessary part of life, you’ll help shape their attitude into a positive one. For more ideas on taking responsibility, visit the Search Institute’s Developmental Assets page and click on “Take Action” under the “Responsibility” asset.
  6. Build your teen’s self-esteem: Research connects low self-esteem with problems like violence, alcoholism, drug abuse, eating disorders, dropping out of school, suicide, low academic achievement, and teenage pregnancy. By teaching our kids to value themselves and the things they’re good at, they also learn how important it is to be treated with respect and valued by others. For tips on how to build and nurture your teen’s self esteem, click here.
  7. Stay involved in your teen’s schooling: Parent involvement in school is crucial to your teen’s success, but for many busy parents, making time to support academic success can be a challenge. It can be easy to assume that your child’s education is the sole responsibility of schools, but remember that education is most effective when parents and schools work together. For tips on how to help your teen succeed in school, click here.
  8. Spend time at home with your teen. Make your home a safe haven for your family where you can hang out and connect with each other. Make sure your teen is only out with friends “with nothing special to do” one or two nights a week. For more ideas on spending time at home, visit the Search Institute’s Developmental Assets page and click on “Take Action” under the “Time at Home” asset.
  9. Teach your teen restraint: It is vital that you teach your teen how to stay away from risky behaviors like sexual activity and drug and alcohol use. For ideas on how to teach your kids to value restraint, click here.
  10. Have high expectations for your teen. Having expectations that are high—yet also realistic—is essential for raising successful teens. Let your teen know that you expect him or her to do well in school, and to not engage in risky behaviors such as alcohol and drug use. For tips on how to foster high expectations, click here.

To see the remaining 30 developmental assets, click here.