Developmental Assets

What are developmental assets?

Developmental assets are factors that can help youth throughout childhood and adolescence. These assets are an important part of healthy development, the more assets a child has, the more likely youth will make positive choices, excel in school, and stay away from drugs and alcohol.

  • Internal Assets: Internal assets exist within each youth, including strengths, and values. These assets influence the choices and decisions a young person makes.
  • External Assets: External assets are experiences that surround. Positive developmental experiences include support, empowerment, setting boundaries and expectations.

To learn more about how parents can strengthen their relationship with their children and therefore increase their number of assets, visit the Search Institute’s website Keep Connected.

Types of Assets

SupportEmpowermentBoundaries and ExpectationsConstructive Use of TimeCommitment to LearningPositive ValuesSocial Competencies
High levels of love and support from familyYouth feel valued in the communityFamily sets clear rules and consequences and monitor youthYouth spends time practicing music, theater, or artsYouth are motivated to do well in school and actively engaged in learningYouth value helping others, promoting equality, and reducing hunger and povertyYouth plan ahead and make choices
Youth and parents have strong communicationYouth have meaningful roles in the communitySchool has clear rules and consequencesYouth spend time in sports, clubs, or organizationsYouth do at least one hour of homework every dayYouth stand up for his or her beliefsYouth have empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills
Youth has support from three or more adults that are not parentsYouth regularly serve the communityNeighbors are responsible for monitoring youth’s behaviorYouth spend time in religious institutionsYouth cares about his or her schoolYouth tell the truth, even when it is difficultYouth has knowledge of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds
School is an encouraging environment and parents are engaged in school successYouth feel safe at home, school and in their neighborhoodParents and other adults and positive, responsible role modelsYouth is not often “out with friends with nothing special to do”Youth reads for pleasure at least three hours per weekYouth accept and take personal responsibilityYouth can resist peer pressure and dangerous situations
Parent(s) are actively involved in helping young person succeed in schoolYouth’s friends exhibit responsible behavior Youth do NOT believe it is important to use alcohol or other drugsYouth can resolve conflict without violence
Young person is willing to seek parent(s) advice and counselFamily and teachers encourage youth to do wellYouth report high self esteem and “my life has a purpose”
Young person experiences caring neighborsYouth feel he or she has control over “things that happen to me”
The above table contains examples of some factors in young people's lives identified by the Search Institute as increasing the likeliness that a young person grows up healthy, caring, and responsible. The material in this table was adapted from the Search Institute, Thresher Square West, 700 South Third Street, Minneapolis, MN 55415.


Building Assets in Youth

Everyone in the community can help to build developmental assets in youth! Here's some examples of how! (Adapted from the Search Institute, Thresher Square West, 700 South Third Street, Minneapolis, MN 55415).
FamilyBusinessesSchoolsLocal Government
Share a meal with youth and learn more about each otherDevelop policies for parents to be active in their child’s lifeMake a policy to provide a caring environment for all students Make asset development a priority
Limit TV watchingCreate opportunities for employees to build relationships with youth by mentoring, volunteering, and internshipsDevelop mentoring opportunities between teens and elementary students Partner with organizations to create safe places for youth to “hang out” and have opportunities
Read togetherProvide resources to youth development programs Promote efforts to promote healthy lifestylesStrengthen ordinances to reduce or eliminate underage access to alcohol and tobacco
Serve the community togetherInclude service learning, values development, relationship building and other asset-building opportunities into curriculum Support neighborhood-building initiatives
Welcome child’s friends into the homeIncrease parent involvement in schools

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