40 Assets to Help Youth Grow Up Healthy, Caring and Responsible

Let’s face it… life and raising healthy, caring and responsible young people just isn’t as easy as it once was. It’s work. Hard work. Fortunately a lot has been learned over the past several decades about what events or experiences have long term, positive consequences for our youth. We know that in today’s world, families alone are only part of a young person’s influence. Our youth are influenced by their communities, their schools, media, friends and their peer groups. It matters whether or not they have positive activities and hobbies or are idle during their free time.

There are some very specific “assets” that benefit young people. Some of these assets come from within the young person (Internal Assets) and some come from the outside (External Assets). The following lists of assets takes a look at the “big picture” of what is helpful to your child and presents them by categories to help you identify where you can focus as you raise your child/children.

These Developmental Assets are also available by age group by going to www.search-institute.org.

External assets:


  1. Family Support: Family life provides high levels of love and support
  2. Positive family communication: Young person and her/his parent(s) communicate positively and young person is willing to seek advice and counsel from parents
  3. Other Adult relationships: Young person receives support from three or more nonparent adults.
  4. Caring neighborhood: Young person experiences a caring neighborhood
  5. Caring school climate: School(s) provide a caring, encouraging environment.
  6. Parent involvement in schooling: Parents are actively involved in helping young person succeed in school


  1. Community values youth: Young person perceives that adults in the community value youth.
  2. Youth as resources: Young people are given useful roles in the community.
  3. Service to others: Young person serves in the community one hour or more per week
  4. Safety: Young person feels safe at home, school and in the neighborhood.

Boundaries & Expectations

  1. Family boundaries: Family has clear rules and consequences and monitors the young person’s whereabouts/friends/computer correspondence and time chatting
  2. School boundaries: School provides clear rules and consequences.
  3. Neighborhood boundaries: Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring young people’s behavior.
  4. Adult role models: Parent(s) and other adults model positive, healthy, responsible behavior.
  5. Positive peer influence: Young person’s best friends model positive, responsible behavior
  6. High expectations: Both parent(s) and teachers encourage the young person to do well

Constructive Use of Time

  1. Creative activities: Young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theatre, or other arts
  2. Youth programs: Young person spends three or more hours per week in sports, clubs or organizations at school and/or in the community
  3. Religious community: Young person spends one or more hours per week in activities in a religious institution
  4. Time at home: Young person is out with friends “with nothing special to do” two or fewer nights per week. When at home young people are doing something other than watching television or using computer.

Internal assets

Committment to Learning

  1. Achievement motivation: Young person is motivated to do well in school
  2. School engagement: Young person is actively engaged in learning
  3. Homework: Young person reports doing at least one hour of homework or extra learning every school day
  4. Bonding to school: Young person cares about her/his school
  5. Reading for pleasure: Young person reads for pleasure three or more hours per week

Positive Values

  1. Caring: Young person places high value on helping other people
  2. Equality and social justice: Young person places high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty
  3. Integrity: Young person acts on conviction and stands up for her/his beliefs
  4. Honesty: Young person “tells the truth” even when it is not easy
  5. Responsibility: Young person accepts and takes personal responsibility
  6. Restraint: Young person believes it is important not to use drugs and alcohol or to be sexually active

Social Competencies

  1. Planning and decision making: Young person knows how to plan ahead and make choices
  2. Interpersonal Competence: Young person has empathy, sensitivity and friendship skills
  3. Cultural competence: Young person has knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultures and/or backgrounds
  4. Resistance skills: Young person can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations
  5. Peaceful conflict resolution: Young person seeks to resolve conflict nonviolently

Positive Identity

  1. Personal power: Young person feels he or she has control over “things that happen to me”
  2. Self-esteem: Young person reports having a high self-esteem
  3. Sense of purpose: Young person reports that “my life has a purpose”
  4. Positive view of personal future: Young person is optimistic about her or his personal future.

A great activity for parents and their child/children is to take this general developmental asset list and "play" it!

Look at a category and review the assets listed. For example under SUPPORT, there is an asset about communication. With your child, each of you write an answer about “Family Communication” and then share it with each other. Another example is “Other Adult Relationships”. Each write down “who” and “how” other adults are involved in your child’s life. And so forth.

Make this an open exercise… no right or wrong answers. This can then lead to positive change within the family system and individual relationships.

To read more and review assets for specific age groups/development stages visit: www.search-institute.org.