Why do some kids grow up with ease, while others struggle? Why do some get into trouble, while others spend their time contributing to society? Why do some young people "beat the odds" in difficult situations, while others become trapped? Many things influence why some youth have successes in life and why others have a harder time. Economic circumstances, trauma, and many other factors play a role. But these factors—which seem difficult, if not impossible, to change—aren't all that matters.
Research has identified 40 concrete, positive experiences, and qualities—"developmental assets"—that have a tremendous influence on the lives of children. Assets are things that people from all walks of life can help to nurture in children and youth.
Review this list of 40 assets and see what you can do to develop them in the children and young persons in your family...in your school...in your congregation...or in your neighborhood.
1. Family support—Family life provides high levels of love and support
2. Positive family communication—Young person and his/her parent(s) communicate positively, and young person is willing to seek advice and counsel from parents
3. Relationships with other caring adults—Young person receives support from three or more nonparent 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 young people succeed in school
7. Community values youth—Young person perceives that adults in the community value youth
8. Youth as resources—Young people are given useful roles in the community
9. Service to others—Young person serves in the community one hour or more per week
10. Safety—Young person feels safe at home, at school, and in the neighborhood
Boundaries & Expectations
11. Family boundaries—Family has clear rules and consequences, and monitors the young person’s whereabouts
12. School boundaries—School provides clear rules and consequences
13. Neighborhood boundaries—Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring young people’s behavior
14. Adult role models—Parents(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior
15. Positive peer influence—Young person’s best friends model responsible behavior
16. High expectations—Both parent(s) and teachers encourage the young person to do well
Constructive Use of Time
17. Creative activities—Young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other arts
18. Youth programs—Young person spends three or more hours per week in sports, clubs, or organizations at school and/or in community organizations
19. Religious community—Young person spends one or more hours per week in activities in a religious institution
20. Time at home—Young person is out with friends two or fewer nights per week
Commitment to Learning
21. Achievement motivation—Young person is motivated to do well in school
22. School engagement—Young person is actively engaged in learning
23. Homework—Young person reports doing at least one hour of homework every school day
24. Bonding to school—Young person cares about her or his school
25. Reading for pleasure—Young person reads for pleasure three or more hours per week
26. Caring—Young person places high value on helping other people
27. Equality and social justice—Young person places high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty
28. Integrity—Young person acts on convictions and stands up for her or his beliefs
29. Honesty—Young person tells the truth even when it is not easy
30. Responsibility—Young person accepts and takes personal responsibility
31. Restraint—Young person believes it is important not to be sexually active or to use alcohol or other drugs
32. Planning and decision making—Young person knows how to plan ahead and make choices
33. Interpersonal competence – Young person has empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills
34. Cultural competence – Young person has knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds
35. Restraint skills – Young person can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations
36. Peaceful conflict resolution – Young person seeks to resolve conflict nonviolently
37. Personal power – Young person feels he or she has control over "things that happen to me"
38. Self-esteem – Young person reports having a high self-esteem
39. Sense of purpose – Young person reports that "my life has a purpose"
40. Positive view of personal future – Young person is optimistic about his or her future
The Asset Development Center is a project funded by the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) to help schools and communities raise healthy children and adolescents. For a free pamphlet on asset development, or to request a presentation for your organization or school, please call (916) 228-2256.