40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents

Search Institute has identified the following building blocks of healthy development—known as Developmental Assets—that help young children grow up healthy, caring, and responsible.

This particular list is intended for adolescents (age 12-18). If you'd like to see the lists for other age groups, you can find them on the Developmental Assets Lists page.

For more information on the assets and the research behind them, see the Developmental Assets research page.

EXTERNAL ASSETS


    SUPPORT

  1. Family Support | Family life provides high levels of love and support.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONStart family traditions and rituals such as family service, game nights, season outings, or family meetings.

    Give kids space and respect their privacy when they need it.

    Give each of your kids a hug today, even if they’re really big kids.

    Spend time each week with each of your teenagers individually.

    Create a small memory book, memory box, photo album, or private Web site for each of your children.

    If you don’t live in the same city as your child, create a care package that includes a pack of cards; a book of crossword puzzles, word jumbles, or drawing activities; and some colorful pens, pencils, or markers.

    For more on this topic, see Supporting Youth: How to Care, Communicate, and Connect in Meaningful Ways.
  2. Positive Family Communication | Young person and her or his parent(s) communicate positively, and young person is willing to seek advice and counsel from parents.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONUse mealtimes to learn about one another’s musical tastes. Choose one night each week as music night and rotate who gets to choose.
    Be willing to talk during times that are comfortable for your children, such as while riding or driving, or on a walk. Sometimes not having to make constant direct eye contact can make the conversation flow better.

    Sending e-mail, telephone calls, handwritten cards, photos, children’s art, and personal letters are all wonderful ways to stay connected with your children’s long-distance relatives.

    Hang a whiteboard on your refrigerator or in a common area such as an entryway. Use it to write loving messages to one another or to let everyone know where you are, how you can be reached, and when you will be home.

    Regardless of your teenagers’ interests and current involvement, regularly sit down with them and talk through their commitments to school, friends, jobs, and so on. Make sure they are making intentional decisions about what they do with their time, and make sure that their choices are respectful of your family’s schedule.

    * For more on this topic, see Conversations on the Go: Clever Questions to Keep Teens and Grown-Ups Talking by Mary Ackerman.
  3. Other Adult Relationships | Young person receives support from three or more nonparent adults.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONSwap a CD or M3P player with a teen. Listen to the music together if you can, and tell each other why you picked that music.

    Find a gourmet goodie buddy. Bake brownies, cookies, or other treats with a young person as a fun way to spend time together.

    Send cards or e-mail greetings to young people you know to mark holidays, birthdays, and other important milestones in their lives.

    As a way to spend time together, invite a young friend to till, plant, and tend a garden patch or create a container garden with potted plants.

    It’s not too late to identify a caring adult who can help take some of the pressure off you during the teenage years. Do you know someone you can bring into a mentoring relationship with your teen who shares your teen’s passion? A colleague? Music instructor? Your child’s employer?

    * For more on this topic, see Mentoring for Meaningful Results and Connect 5: Finding the Caring Adults You May Not Realize Your Teen Needs by Kathleen Kimball-Baker.
  4. Caring Neighborhood | Young person experiences caring neighbors.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONHave neighborhood celebration on the first or last day of the school year. Invite youth, parents, teachers, and other neighbors.

    Organize informal activities (such as pick-up basketball) for young people in your neighborhood. Make plans to do the activity weekly if they are interested.

    If you live in an apartment or condominium, spend time in gathering places, such as front steps, courtyards, meeting rooms, pools, laundry rooms, and lobbies. Greet people and try to start conversations.

    Let the kids in your neighborhood know they can play basketball in your driveway, cut through your yard to get to school, sled down the hill in your backyard—whatever you feel comfortable with.

    Organize a neighborhood bake sale or garage sale, or try a barter day—you and your neighbors can gather to trade items.

    * For more on this topic, see Tag, You’re It! 50 Easy Ways to Connect with Young People by Kathleen Kimball-Baker.
  5. Caring School Climate | School provides a caring, encouraging environment.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONIf you find out your child is bullying or being bullied, don't add stress by showing your anger, fear, or disappointment. First listen carefully and respectfully while your child explains her or his point of view. Then work together to make a plan to solve the problem.

    Talk with your kids — ask about their friends, about what it's like to ride the bus or walk through the lunchroom. Keep talking and asking questions, even when they don't seem anxious to respond. If you know or find out that bullying is going on at school, in a congregation, or in another organization, be sure to report it.

    * For more on this topic, see Safe Places to Learn: 21 Lessons to Help Students Promote a Caring School Climate by Paul Sulley and Great Places to Learn: Creating Asset-Building Schools That Help Students Succeed by Neal Starkman, Peter C. Scales, and Clay Roberts.
  6. Parent Involvement in Schooling | Parent(s) are actively involved in helping the child succeed in school.


  7. EMPOWERMENT

  8. Community Values Youth | Young person perceives that adults in the community value youth.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONWhen young workers at a grocery store, drug store, or fast food restaurant wait on you, greet them in a friendly manner and compliment them on something (their good work, their unusual hairstyle).

    Be patient with young workers! Don’t show irritation if they make a mistake.

    Celebrate a young employee’s new job with a lunch date and a tour of your workplace. Talk about your job and the job he or she has been hired to do. Encourage lots of questions.

    * For more on this topic, see Empowering Youth: How to Encourage Young Leaders to do Great Things by Kelly Curtis.
  9. Youth as Resources | Young people are given useful roles in the community.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONSolicit young people’s input in all decisions that affect them. If you’re on a decision-making board, invite young people to be members—and then really listen to what they have to say.

    If you’re in charge of a fundraising or charity event, involve your children or students. They will learn by watching you in action, but they will learn even more if they’re given a meaningful task to complete.

    Encourage kids to mentor their peers. Teach them how they can help other youth by listening to them and helping them work through their problems.

    * For more on this topic, see Empowering Youth: How to Encourage Young Leaders to do Great Things by Kelly Curtis.
  10. Service to Others | Young person serves in the community one hour or more per week.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONTogether with your kids, do something for someone else, whether it’s making a financial contribution, baking cookies, or helping someone out.

    Make and send cards to hospitalized children, nursing home residents, or people in the military.

    Organize a community or neighborhood “closet-cleaning day.” Deliver everything you collect to a shelter or thrift store.

    Provide foster care for a pet through an animal shelter or for a friend or neighbor who is out of town or ill.

    Organize or participate together in a fundraiser such as a walk or run. Donate the proceeds to hurricane relief, camp scholarships, or other causes.

    * For more on this topic, see Empowering Youth: How to Encourage Young Leaders to do Great Things by Kelly Curtis and The Best of Building Assets Together: Favorite Group Activities That Help Youth Succeed by Jolene Roehlkepartain.
  11. Safety | Young person feels safe at home, school, and in the neighborhood.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONCreate a loving, violence-free, safe home environment.

    If weapons are ever part of a bullying threat, take the threat seriously. The police need to be kept informed.

    Talk with your teen about the connection between driving and emotions. Point out that driving while angry, sad, or preoccupied can be as dangerous as drinking and driving. New drivers need to be in control of their own emotions and alert to the reactions of other drivers.

    Remove yourself from a situation immediately if you ever feel troubled enough to use physical or emotional violence against your teenager. Leave the room—go for a walk, visit a neighbor, call a trusted friend or counselor—but physically go somewhere else and calm down.

    Parents must decide when a teen’s welfare or the welfare of others is seriously endangered, and take action. If your child is engaging in risky behaviors of any sort, it’s time to intervene, monitor behavior closely, and perhaps seek professional support.

    * For more on this topic, see Empowering Youth: How to Encourage Young Leaders to do Great Things by Kelly Curtis and Helping Teens Handle Tough Experiences: Strategies to Foster Resilience by Jill R. Nelson and Sarah Kjos.


  12. BOUNDARIES AND EXPECTATIONS

  13. Family Boundaries | Family has clear rules and consequences and monitors the young person’s whereabouts.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONAlways ask where your kids are going, with whom, and when they’ll be home.


    The next time your child lashes out at you, try responding with love rather than anger, such as, “I’m sorry you’re feeling that way right now. I love you, but it’s not okay to act this way.”

    Learn to be flexible when setting boundaries and to take the long view. Trends come and go and always will.

    Invest in high-quality Internet software that can track all activity, including chats, email, and Web access. Let your teens know you will regularly check on what they are doing online (and then be sure to do it).

    If possible, keep computers in the common areas of your home, not in bedrooms, offices, or other rooms where kids can spend long periods of time unsupervised.

    * For more on this topic, see Parenting Preteens with a Purpose: Navigating the Middle Years by Kate Thomsen and Parenting at the Speed of Teens: Positive Tips on Everyday Issues.
  14. School Boundaries | School provides clear rules and consequences.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONMake sure you and your children know the school rules about dress and appearance, and know the consequences for violating them.

    School should feel safe to children. If your child is being teased or bullied—in the classroom, on the playground, or to and from school—be sure to talk to your child's teacher. Great resources are available for teachers and parents to work through bullying issues, so speak up as soon as you believe this is an issue.

    Know the dress codes of your kids’ schools, and make sure your kids follow them, even if they tell you “no one else does.”

    *For more on this topic, see Safe Places to Learn: 21 Lessons to Help Students Promote a Caring School Climate by Paul Sulley and Great Places to Learn: Creating Asset-Building Schools That Help Students Succeed by Neal Starkman, Peter C. Scales, and Clay Roberts.
  15. Neighborhood Boundaries | Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring young people’s behavior.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONTell other parents when you see their children being responsible or generous in their actions. Try to find opportunities to praise more often than you report misbehavior.

    Make your home one that kids want to come to. If kids get rowdy in your home, be calm but firm in re-establishing order.

    Meet the parents of your children’s friends. If your preteen wants to go with friends to a movie or the mall without you, call other parents and agree on pick-up times and movie choices.

    * For more on this topic, see Parenting Preteens with a Purpose: Navigating the Middle Years by Kate Thomsen and The Best of Building Assets Together: Favorite Activities That Help Youth Succeed by Jolene Roehlkepartain.
  16. Adult Role Models | Parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONIf you parent with a partner, make sure you work on keeping that relationship happy and healthy. You, your partner, and your kids will all benefit.

    Know when to tell your children you’re sorry. Keep it honest and sincere, avoiding the temptation to soothe your own conscience by offering gifts or other indulgences unrelated to the situation.

    Show them that you are brave enough to try again, even when you feel embarrassed.

    Make sure children hear adults solving problems in peaceful ways — not with shouting, angry words, or hitting. If you and your child witness bullying or intimidation by adults or children, point it out, talk about it, and think of alternate ways the situation could have been handled.

    Model for your children hard work, a good attitude, and respect for others. Avoid bad-mouthing coworkers, sports teams or players, and others with whom you compare yourself or compete.

    * For more on this topic, see Just When I Needed You: True Stories of Adults Who Made a Difference in the Lives of Young People by Deborah Fisher and Mentoring for Meaningful Results.
  17. Positive Peer Influence | Young person's best friends model responsible behavior.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION* For more on this topic, see The Best of Building Assets Together: Favorite Group Activities That Help Youth Succeed by Jolene Roehlkepartain and Parenting at the Speed of Teens: Positive Tips on Everyday Issues.
  18. High Expectations | Both parent(s) and teachers encourage the young person to do well.


  19. CONSTRUCTIVE USE OF TIME

  20. Creative Activities | Young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other arts.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONHand down a hobby. Teach a young person a skill, such as quilting, carpentry, or gardening.

    Help your children—at every age—find positive outlets for their creative energy. This might include classes, crafts, physical activities, drama, or more.

    If you played an instrument when you were younger, take a refresher course. Then set a good example and practice often. Or join a choir, try out for a play, pick up a paintbrush, or write a poem. Share your excitement with your children.

    * For more on this topic, see The Best of Building Assets Together: Favorite Group Activities That Help Youth Succeed by Jolene Roehlkepartain.
  21. Youth Programs | Young person spends three or more hours per week in sports, clubs, or organizations at school and/or in community organizations.SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONScouts and other youth groups are great places for young people to build strong, supportive relationships. Explore youth group opportunities.

    Suggest that your kids join a local organization for the summer as a counselor or mentor for children.

    Encourage your teens to be involved in some out-of-school programs or activities. If they aren’t interested in options at school, help them identify and research opportunities in your community. Carefully chosen part-time jobs or volunteer situations can also be worthwhile endeavors for teens.

    If you think it would help your child, look into a formal mentoring program through your school or a community organization. Many programs can match kids this age with an adult who will be a supporter and friend for years to come.

    Many young people have an interest in clubs and organizations at school that do fundraising for causes worldwide. Encourage their leadership and participation.

    * For more on this topic, see Helping Teens Handle Tough Experiences: Strategies to Foster Resilience, Mentoring for Meaningful Results, Great Group Games.
  22. Religious Community | Young person spends one hour or more per week in activities in a religious institution.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONAdapt your religious and spiritual practices to match your child’s developmental abilities. Children this age may only be able to sit 10-15 minutes (or less) at one time. Offer a quiet activity or book to keep your child engaged.

    Encourage your child to talk about her interpretations of spiritual or religious concepts, asking questions to clarify comments, rather than judging what she says.

    It’s okay for your teen to seek out adult mentors with deep spiritual commitments or practices, even if those practices differ from your own. Exposure to different cultures and belief systems can help him evaluate and define his own.

    Keep talking with and listening to your child, even if she says things about religion or spirituality that worry or disappoint you.

    Together, read stories and enjoy music and other creative arts that have religious or spiritual themes.
  23. Time at Home | Young person is out with friends "with nothing special to do" two or fewer nights per week.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONMake sure your kids’ time at home is constructive by setting aside at least one evening a week as family time. Play games, have a family book club, make dinner together, or go on walks, taking a different route each week.

    Limit their time on TV, computer, and video games. Many young people choose to be active when not glued to a screen.

    Set aside media-free family time on evenings or weekends. Play games, read aloud together, toast marshmallows, listen to music, play outside, go on an outing, or plan some other enjoyable activity together.

    As much as possible, honor mealtimes as “connecting times.” Don’t watch TV or stand over the sink as you eat!

    Many preteens and teens start dropping activities and wanting to spend more time “hanging out.” Be patient, but also encourage your child to find another activity to try and get involved in.

    * For more on this topic, see Parenting Preteens with a Purpose: Navigating the Middle Years and A Moment’s Peace for Parents of Teens: 365 Rejuvenating Reflections by Patricia Hoolihan.

INTERNAL ASSETS


    COMMITMENT TO LEARNING

  1. Achievement Motivation | Young person is motivated to do well in school.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONYou can never “overpraise” a child’s abilities. The more able a child feels, the more likely she or he is to continue pursuing ambitious goals.

    Use spontaneous rewards with no strings attached. If you expect children to work hard and learn new skills, they probably will. Instead of saying “I’ll take you to the park if you finish your assignment,” say, “You finished your assignment? Great! Let’s go to the park to celebrate.”

    Set goals together that will motivate your child. Choose goals that are easy, simple, and doable. For example, goals could include, “I will raise my hand to participate at least one more time a day” or “I will ask my teacher or dad for help when I don’t understand something.”

    Monitor your teenager’s stress levels. Some find high school academically competitive and can psych themselves out. Others think high school is a waste of time and try to do the minimum. Talk about how high school is a key part of your child’s life and how he can make the most of it.

    * For more on this topic, see Engage Every Parent! Encouraging Families to Sign On, Show Up, and Make a Difference by Nancy Tellett-Royce and Susan Wootten.
  2. School Engagement | Young person is actively engaged in learning.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONTalk with your children about school and learning. Ask them every day what they did in school, what they learned, what they liked about school, what they didn’t like about it. Stay in touch with their school experience.

    Some kids complain of boredom in the classroom. If this is the case, talk with your child and his teacher about enriching assignments to add more challenge. Ask for opportunities that add rigor and depth to your child’s education, and look for mentors and tutors who can help him delve more deeply into subjects that he loves.

    When you talk about school, stay positive. Let your children know that you think learning and school are fun and important.

    * For more on this topic, see Engage Every Parent! Encouraging Families to Sign On, Show Up, and Make a Difference by Nancy Tellett-Royce and Susan Wootten.
  3. Homework | Young person reports doing at least one hour of homework every school day.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONAsk neighbors to include their areas of expertise (computers, math, English arts) in a “homework helpers” list to distribute to students. Then encourage students to call neighbors when they need specific help.

    Sit near your children when they’re doing homework, and do work of your own: write a letter, pay bills, balance your checkbook, or read work-related material. Continue this routine as children grow older.

    Encourage children who participate in after-school childcare programs to do at least some of their homework there so that you have more family time in the evenings.

    Encourage your children to form study groups with other students when appropriate. Help them outline complex material, and teach them how to read and evaluate arguments with a critical eye.

    When your children ask for help, provide guidance (but don’t give them all the answers right away). Remember, children only need to do their best, not your best.

    * For more on this topic, see Engage Every Parent! Encouraging Families to Sign On, Show Up, and Make a Difference by Nancy Tellett-Royce and Susan Wootten.
  4. Bonding to School | Young person cares about her or his school.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONIf you are able, purchase school t-shirts, caps, sweatshirts, or other school clothing that’s for sale. Wearing these items helps children show pride in their school.

    Participate with your child in service projects, such as food drives, conducted by the school. Invite one of your child's friends to join you.

    Show that you care about your child’s school. Join a parent-teacher organization, attend conferences and special events, and volunteer in any way you can.

    Listen to your teenager when he complains about school or talks about not feeling connected. Is there a specific problem?

    Don't forget to identify one caring adult at school as your family's "ally." Aim for at least five caring adults in your teen’s life.

    * For more on this topic, see Engage Every Parent! Encouraging Families to Sign On, Show Up, and Make a Difference by Nancy Tellett-Royce and Susan Wootten.
  5. Reading for Pleasure | Young person reads for pleasure three or more hours per week.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONBring a young person to look for books at garage sales, rummage sales, and second-hand stores.

    Ask children to read to you as they learn to read. Show them that you are excited and proud about their reading.

    Ask a teenager to recommend a favorite book. Read the book and start a discussion later about the characters’ values.

    Give your child books and magazine subscriptions as birthday and holiday presents.

    Make it a family ritual to read together in the evening—with the television, cell phones, and computers turned off!

    * For more on this topic, see The Best of Building Assets Together: Favorite Group Activities That Help Youth Succeed.


  6. POSITIVE VALUES

  7. Caring | Young Person places high value on helping other people.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONEncourage your kids to donate coins—their own or ones you give them—to good causes.

    Investigate volunteer opportunities in your community that you and your teen can do together, such as stocking food supplies at your local foodshelf.

    Affirm your teenager when he or she acts in ways that are caring or responsible. Teenagers need to hear that you’re proud of them and that they are making good choices (even when you’re not happy with all their choices).
  8. Equality and Social Justice | Young person places high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONTogether, choose an organization or group you want to support financially. Spend six months saving and then deliver your donation in person, if possible.

    Begin teaching your child the importance of thinking of others who might not have as much as they do. Encourage your kids to “hand down” items they no longer use to charitable organizations.

    Identify people (past or present) who have worked for social justice. Discuss their impact on their community or the world.

    * For more on this topic, see Make a World of Difference: 50 Asset-Building Activities to Help Teens Explore Diversity by Dawn C. Oparah.
  9. Integrity | Young person acts on convictions and stands up for her or his beliefs.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONDefending personal values may sometimes mean your teens get intolerant or belittling responses from their friends or acquaintances. Your support for your children is crucial.
  10. Honesty | Young person "tells the truth even when it is not easy."
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONRealize that asking demanding questions (“Did you throw that at your sister?”), when you already know the answers, may corner them into lies if they think you might be fooled (“No, I dropped it and it hit her.”)

    Live honestly, even when it's “no big deal”: Return the extra if given too much change, play fair, own up to fibs or made-up excuses.

    Make it a game to find dishonesty in advertising. Discuss why companies might want to mislead people or hide some information.

    When your children are honest with you about problems, concerns, or sensitive topics, praise them, even if you don't like what you have been told. Separate honesty from other issues.

    Keep in mind that kids usually lie because it seems safer than telling the truth. If you suspect your child is lying, try to get at the reason. Say, for example, “I'm having a hard time believing this story, did something happen that you're afraid to tell me?” Or, “There seems to be more to this than what you're saying, what else is bothering you?”
  11. Responsibility | Young person accepts and takes personal responsibility.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONDon’t always bail your kids out of trouble. Help them learn from mistakes.

    Don’t nag or rescue your kids when they forget to follow through on a responsibility. Let natural consequences occur (e.g., kids who don’t put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket run out of clean clothes to wear).

    Talk about the cost of things you buy and how you make decisions about what to spend.

    If you have a pet, encourage your child to take on more responsibility for pet care as he or she matures. If your child is interested in getting a pet, work with her or him to do plenty of research on the care needed for the type of animal you are considering.

    * For more on this topic, see Teaching Kids to Change the World: Lessons to Inspire Social Responsibility for Grades 6-12 by Jennifer Griffin-Wiesner and Chris Maser.
  12. Restraint | Young person believes it is important not to be sexually active or to use alcohol or other drugs.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONTalk with your kids about real-life stuff like drugs, alcohol, and sexuality. Let them know your values and expectations.

    Talk to your kids—boys and girls—about how to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. If you don’t, you can be sure someone will and they may not share your wisdom.

    Some teens think that all parties have to be unsupervised and involve drinking or other illegal activities. Help your children plan fun, “dry” parties at your home or another safe location.

    Don’t laugh at or glorify the behavior of people who have had too much to drink, even on television or in movies.

    Let your teen know it’s so important to you that they don’t drink, that you will always provide a no-questions-asked-at-the-time ride home if they end up at a party where there is alcohol.

    Seize opportune moments to talk, such as after watching a movie or show together that contains content about sexual relationships (even those considered “family” shows often do).

    * For more on this topic, see Parenting Preteens with a Purpose: Navigating the Middle Years by Kate Thomsen, Parenting at the Speed of Teens, and Helping Teens Handle Tough Experiences: Strategies to Foster Resilience by Jill R. Nelson and Sarah Kjos.


  13. SOCIAL COMPETENCIES

  14. Planning and Decision Making | Young person knows how to plan ahead and make choices.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONWhen your children receive long-term school assignments, offer to help them plan and make decisions in order to finish on time.

    Talk children through planning ahead by asking “what if” questions. This will help them think about what needs to be done and identify possible consequences of their decisions.

    Encourage your teen to get involved in a long-term project (one that involves planning and coordination) at school or in the community.

    Be intentional about letting kids make plans for a family party or event. Let them help make guest lists, plan the budget, shop for food and decorations, and enlist family members to make the event a success.

    Provide your children with daily planners to help them organize their homework assignments, tests, and after-school activities.
  15. Interpersonal Competence | Young person has empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONRemind your children that they need to treat you with respect, such as saying please and thank you, and acknowledging your presence!

    Make it a policy to never speak poorly of others in your home.

    Use “active listening” with your children: Ask good questions, paraphrase what they say to make sure you understand, and show that you empathize with what they are saying.

    Teach your children—through modeling and explanation—how to use “I” statements to express feelings to one another without making accusations (for example: “I feel angry when you say that,” instead of “You make me so mad, or “You are so stupid.”

    Encourage your child to develop friendships of all ages in a number of different settings, such as school, a faith community, your neighborhood, or your extended family.

    * For more on this topic, see The Best of Building Assets Together: Favorite Activities That Help Youth Succeed by Jolene Roehlkepartain.
  16. Cultural Competence | Young person has knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONPay attention to what you say and how you say it about people, the world, ideas, and so on. Your kids are learning from you.

    Teach your kids that everybody has personal values, even though others’ may be different from their own.

    Attend cultural events and festivals in your community. If you don’t know of any, try asking a librarian or calling your local chamber of commerce.

    When you watch television, see a movie, or play a video game with your children, talk about the subtle messages about diversity. Do all the characters look, sound, or dress a certain way? Are there stereotypes that are reinforced or dispelled? What’s implied about the positive and negative aspects of certain characteristics?

    Encourage your teens to have “multi-cultural” experiences by visiting museums, cultural festivals or centers, congregations, or other places where people who share a common culture gather.

    * For more on this topic, see Make a World of Difference: 50 Asset-Building Activities to Help Teens Explore Diversity by Dawn C. Oparah.
  17. Resistance Skills | Young person can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONBe aware that some young people participate in unhealthy rites of passage involving things like hazing, gambling, sexual activity, or substance use. Talk with your children about how their peers mark life changes. Then, together with your children, make some positive plans of your own.

    Peer pressure can be a powerful motivator and becomes more so as your child matures. Talk about the importance of thinking for oneself. Encourage your child to believe in the value of her own good choices.

    Reinforce nonviolent resistance skills, such as walking away, being assertive (although not passive or overly aggressive), and finding someone such as a trained peer mediator to help.

    Teach your children that kids who pressure them to do things they know they shouldn’t do are not true friends at all. Talk about times when you had to let go of a friendship that wasn’t helpful to you.

    Affirm your teenagers when they make good choices. They need to hear what they’re doing right.

    * For more on this topic, see Parenting Preteens with a Purpose: Navigating the Middle Years by Kate Thomsen and Parenting at the Speed of Teens: Positive Tips on Everyday Issues.
  18. Peaceful Conflict Resolution | Young person seeks to resolve conflict nonviolently.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONForgive people of all ages when they make mistakes. Teach young people how to apologize, explain, negotiate, and resolve conflicts peacefully when relationships run into trouble.

    If your children hit each other (or kick, bite, and pull each other’s hair), don’t just chalk it up to “kids being kids.” Explain why it isn’t right to hurt someone else, and mediate an apology.

    Teach your children about nonviolent resistance by reading about Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, and other nonviolent leaders.

    Know when to tell your children you’re sorry. Keep it honest and sincere, avoiding the temptation to soothe your own conscience by offering gifts or other indulgences unrelated to the situation.

    Allow family members to leave discussions when they are too angry or upset to resolve conflicts peacefully and reasonably. Agree on a time to try again.

    * For more on this topic, see Helping Teens Handle Tough Experiences: Strategies to Foster Resilience by Jill R. Nelson and Sarah Kjos.


  19. POSITIVE IDENTITY

  20. Personal Power | Young person feels he or she has control over "things that happen to me."
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONThe most important piece of the self-esteem puzzle is personal power—the sense your child gets from knowing they can have an effect on their world. Finding ways for your child to set a goal and achieve it is important.

    Help your child learn to brainstorm and choose solutions to problems so that he or she learns to be empowered.

    A child’s personal power (self-esteem) might come from successful team work, a rewarding service activity, or remembering to do chores without being told. Look for ways to identify and recognize your child’s growing personal power.

    As you watch your teen become more empowered and self-assured, have ongoing conversations about the new responsibilities this age brings and about your confidence in their ability to navigate their expanding world.

    Help your children understand the difference(s) between what we can and can’t control. For example, we can control what we say and do; we can’t control what other people say and do.
  21. Self-Esteem | Young person reports having a high self-esteem.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONTalk openly and positively about changes happening in your children’s bodies—growth spurts and puberty. When your son’s voice begins to change or your daughter gets her period, celebrate in a way that suits your child—perhaps a special dinner or outing.

    Tell your children how proud you are of them. Be sure to let them know you enjoy their company.

    When teen acne appears, help children explore options for effectively treating it with frequent face washing, over-the-counter products, and/or dermatologist-prescribed medication.

    Tell your kids what’s special about them and that your love for them will never end. Some parents think children just know these things. They won’t, unless they hear it directly from you.

    * For more on this topic, see Helping Teens Handle Tough Experiences: Strategies to Foster Resilience by Jill R. Nelson and Sarah Kjos and Parenting Preteens with a Purpose: Navigating the Middle Years by Kate Thomsen.
  22. Sense of Purpose | Young person reports that "my life has a purpose."
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONStock your bookshelves with inspiring books about heroes who have made a difference with their lives.

    Tell your children about a time when you really messed up and learned from it.
  23. Positive View of Personal Future | Young person is optimistic about her or his personal future.
    SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONEncourage your children to spend time in their high school guidance office, reading through career and college planning materials.

    Talk to your teenagers about how they feel about themselves and what they envision for their future.

    If your teenager is passionate about animals, encourage her or him to consider education or career paths that involve animals when she or he considers post-high school opportunities. There are many.

    Ask your kids about their goals and dreams. Help them think about the resources (financial and otherwise) they will need to make these goals a reality.

    * For more on this topic, see Just When I Needed You: True Stories of Adults Who Made a Difference in the Lives of Young People by Deborah Fisher.

  24. This list is an educational tool. It is not intended to be nor is it appropriate as a scientific measure of the developmental assets of individuals.

    Copyright © 1997, 2007 by Search Institute. All rights reserved. This chart may be reproduced for educational, noncommercial use only (with this copyright line). No other use is permitted without prior permission from Search Institute, 615 First Avenue N.E., Suite 125, Minneapolis, MN 55413; 800-888-7828. See Search Institute's Permissions Guidelines and Request Form. The following are registered trademarks of Search Institute: Search Institute®, Developmental Assets® and Healthy Communities • Healthy Youth®.