40 Developmental Assets for Children

What Kids Need to Thrive

Search Institute has identified the following 40 developmental assets in children’s lives  that help young people grow up healthy, caring, and responsible.

Search Institute’s research shows that kids who have a lot of these traits are more likely to do well in school, volunteer in the community and care about others. Kids who have lots of assets are less likely to use tobacco or drugs or be sexually active.



  1. Family Support – Family life provides high levels of love and support.

  2. Positive Family Communication – Young person and her or his parent(s) communicate positively, and young person is willing to seek parent(s) advice and counsel.

  3. Other Adult Relationships – Young person receives support from three or more non-parent adults.

  4. Caring Neighborhood – Young person experiences caring neighbors.

  5. Caring School Climate – School provides a caring, encouraging environment.

  6. Parent Involvement in Schooling – Parent(s) are actively involved in helping a 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.

  2. School Boundaries – School provides clear rules and consequences.

  3. Neighborhood Boundaries – Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring young peoples behavior.

  4. Adult Role Models – Parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior.

  5. Positive Peer Influence – Young person’s best friends model 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 a 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 community organizations.

  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.


Commitment 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 every school day.

  4. Bonding to School – Young person cares about her or 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. Equitity and Social Justice – Young person places high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty.

  3. Integrity – Young person acts on convictions and stands up for her or 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 be sexually active or use alcohol or other drugs.


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 cultural/racial/ethnic 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 purpose.”

  4. Positive View of Personal Future – Young person is optimistic about her or his personal future.


©2004 Search Institute, 615 First Ave. NE, Suite. 125, Minneapolis, MN 55413
(800) 888-7828


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For more information about building strong families, check out the following books. Purchasing from Amazon.com through our website supports the work we do to help parents do the best job they can to raise their children.

Connections: The Threads that Strengthen Families by Jean Illsley Clark 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen Covey Traits of a Healthy Family by Delores Curran How Childen Succeed by Paul Tough

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<all our recommended parenting books


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