Developmental Assets


Do you ever wonder why some kids seem to grow up with ease while others struggle? Are you surprised that some kids thrive in spite of difficult circumstances? Search Institute, a non-profit research organization, has been asking these same questions since 1958. Through studies involving hundreds of thousands of young people across the country, they have found 40 factors that are essential to young people's success. They call these 40 factors "developmental assets". These assets are not financial - they are opportunities, skills, relationships, values, and self-perceptions that all young people need in their lives.

The 40 developmental assets fall into 8 categories: support, empowerment, boundaries and expectations, constructive use of time, commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies and positive identity. Young people with more assets are less likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors and as their assets increase, their positive behaviors (school success, informal helping, valuing diversity and exhibiting leadership) also increase. The average young person surveyed by Search Institute has 18 of the 40 assets. A copy of the 40 Developmental Assets has been provided with this newsletter for you to have and post someplace in your home.


View Developmental Asset Chart



In the last newsletter, some general information was given about the 40 Developmental Assets. A copy of the 40 Developmental Assets was also inserted. Hopefully this is posted somewhere in your home. Research has shown that an effective approach to raising healthy, competent children is to concentrate on building developmental assets. These assets form the foundation young people need to make healthy choices and to succeed in life. The more assets your children have, the stronger this foundation will be.

There are probably lots of asset-building things you already do for your children - even if you don't call them that. Here are some additional ways to be intentional about asset building:

  • Regularly do things with your child, including projects around the house, recreational activities, and service projects. Take turns planning activities to do as a family.

  • Eat at least one meal together as a family every day.

  • Negotiate family rules and consequences for breaking those rules.

  • Develop a family mission statement that focuses on building assets. Then use it to help you make family decisions.

  • Talk about your values and priorities and live in a way that is consistent with them.

  • Give your children lots of support and approval while also challenging them to take responsibility for their actions and decisions.

  • If you are parenting alone, look for other adult role models of both genders who can be mentors for your children.

  • Think of teenagers as adults in training. Teach them something practical, such as how to change a tire on the car, prepare a meal or create a monthly budget.

  • Talk to your children about the 40 developmental assets. Ask them for suggestions of ways to strengthen their assets.

  • Remember that you are not alone. Other asset builders in your children's lives include coaches, child-care providers, teachers, club leaders and neighbors. Work with these people to give kids consistent messages about boundaries and values.

Above information from Pass It On! Ready to Use Handouts for Asset Builders by Search Institute, 1999;

Another useful link is for BOAT (Building Our Assets Together).


Mr. Kevin Wiedecker