Children First and the 40 Developmental Assets
Children First is based on Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets.
Search Institute has identified the following building blocks of healthy development that help young people grow up healthy, caring, and responsible.
Search Institute’s research shows that kids who have a lot of assets 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.
Click on the headings to reveal information about specific asset categories.
SUPPORT – Young people need to be surrounded with people who love, care for, appreciate and accept them.
Family Support– Family life provides high levels of love and support.
- 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.
- Other adult relationships– Young person receives support from three or more non-parent adults.
- Caring neighborhood– Young person experiences caring neighbors.
- Caring school climate– School provides a caring, encouraging environment.
- Parent involvement in schooling– Parent(s) are actively involved in helping a young person succeed in school.
EMPOWERMENT – Young people need to feel valued and valuable. This happens when youth feel safe and respected.
- Community values youth – Young person perceives that adults in the community value youth.
- Youth as resources– Young people are given useful roles in the community.
- Service to others– Young person serves in the community one hour or more per week.
- Safety– Young person feels safe at home, school, and in the neighborhood.
BOUNDARIES & EXPECTATIONS – Young people need clear rules, consistent consequences for breaking rules and encouragement to do their best.
- Family boundaries– Family has clear rules and consequences, and monitors the young person’s whereabouts.
- School boundaries– School provides clear rules and consequences.
- Neighborhood boundaries– Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring young people’s behavior.
- Adult role models– Parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior.
- Positive peer influence– Young person’s best friends model responsible behavior.
- High expectations– Both parent(s) and teachers encourage the young person to do well.
CONSTRUCTIVE USE OF TIME – Young people need opportunities – outside of school – to learn and develop new skills and interests with other youth and adults.
- Creative activities– Young person spends three or more hours a week in lessons or practice in music, theatre, or other arts.
- Youth programs– Young person spends three or more hours per week in sports, clubs or organizations at school and/or in community organizations.
- Religious community– Young person spends one or more hours per week in activities in a religious institution.
- Time at home– Young person is out with friends “with nothing special to do,” two or fewer nights per week.
COMMITMENT TO LEARNING – Young people need a sense of the lasting importance of learning and a belief in their own abilities.
- Achievement motivation– Young person is motivated to do well in school.
- School engagement– Young person is actively engaged in learning.
- Homework– Young person reports doing at least one hour of homework every school day.
- Bonding to school– Young person cares about her or his school.
- Reading for pleasure– Young person reads for pleasure three or more hours per week.
POSITIVE VALUES – Young people need to develop strong guiding values or principles to help them make health life choices.
- Caring– Young person places high value on helping other people.
- Equitable & social justice– Young person places high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty.
- Integrity– Young person acts on convictions and stands up for her or his beliefs.
- Honesty– Young person “tells the truth even when it is not easy.”
- Responsibility– Young person accepts and takes personal responsibility.
- Restraint– Young person believes it is important not to be sexually active or use alcohol or other drugs.
SOCIAL COMPETENCIES – Young people need the skills to interact effectively with others, to make difficult decisions, and to cope with new situations.
- Planning & decision-making– Young person knows how to plan ahead and make choices.
- Interpersonal competence– Young person has empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills.
- Cultural competence– Young person has knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds.
- Resistance skills– Young person can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations.
- Peaceful conflict resolution– Young person seeks to resolve conflict nonviolently.
POSITIVE IDENTITY – Young people need to believe in their own self-worth and to feel that they have control over things that happen to them.
- Personal control– Young person feels he or she has control over “things that happen to me.”
- Self-esteem– Young person reports having a high self-esteem.
- Sense of purpose– Young person reports that “my life has purpose.”
- Positive view of personal future– Young person is optimistic about her or his personal future.
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