40 Developmental Assets

8:25 pmin Articles Jan Cloninger

GrowingHow many times have we wished that there were some magic formula to follow for raising children, something that would give us step-by-step foolproof instruction that would guarantee positive results? Well, considering the nature of parenting no one can offer guarantees. With the combination of temperament, developmental considerations family values and cultural histories it’s difficult to provide a blueprint for any one child or family. Experts can provide guidelines and the World Wide Web can provide a wealth of information that usually creates more confusion and anxiety than calming reassurance. But we have found one resource that provides everyday wisdom about the positive experiences and characteristics children need to thrive.

The Search Institute, an independent, nonprofit, nonsectarian organization committed to helping create healthy communities for every young person, has researched and developed 40 developmental assets that help children grow up healthy, caring and responsible.

The Search Institute’s research has shown that the more assets the child possesses the less likely he/she is to engage in high risk behaviors such as problem alcohol use, violence, illicit drug use, and sexual activity. The same kind of impact is evident with many other problem behaviors, including tobacco use, depression and attempted suicide, antisocial behavior, school problems, driving and alcohol, and gambling.

The positive power of the assets is evident across all cultural and socioeconomic groups of youth and are better predictors of high-risk involvement and/or thriving behaviors than poverty or other high risk factors. Unfortunately, the average young person experiences fewer than half of the 40 assets, and boys experience an average of three fewer assets than girls.

The 40 assets are divided into eight categories, both external and internal, that can help your child to thrive.

 External Assets Categories

  • support
  • empowerment
  • boundaries and expectations
  • constructive use of time

 Internal Assets Categories  

  • commitment to learning
  • positive values
  • social competencies
  • positive identity

So, as parents, how can we help our children develop the relationships, opportunities and personal qualities to achieve these assets? That will be the topic of our next class (see details below).

It’s never too early to start. From the day a child is born he is learning and growing in an environment that is going to shape his future. Intentional parenting is the key to helping your child meet the challenges and experience the joy that life has to offer. A Place to Turn To is here to help you on that journey with resources like the Search Institute and many others that can be individually tailored to your family’s needs.

Questions to consider this month:

  • As you think about your child(ren), which of the above asset categories do you think they’re strongest in?
  • Are there categories that you think they might be lacking in?
  • Take a look at the full list of the 40 developmental assets and consider what small steps you can do this month to help your child(ren) gain more assets.

Conversation starters (after looking at all the assets structure some questions to determine if your child has specific ones in place):

  • Besides your immediate family, tell me a few other adults you’d be comfortable going to if you had a problem or needed help.
  • If you were describing our family to someone else, what you tell them is important to us?
  • Who do you most admire in your life?  What is it about them that you admire most?



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