Posted by Bellefaire JCB on February 01, 2016

Building Assets in Your Children

  • Prevention & Early Intervention Prevention & Early Intervention

Family Assets – It's Not What's in the Bank

Many of the things you do – or could do – everyday builds strengths in your kids. These are common sense things we often do without much thought. Yet, they are crucial for raising healthy, capable youth. Building family assets encourages families and communities to focus on and involve themselves in activities that strengthen the resiliency skills and protective factors in children.

What Are Assets?

Assets are internal and external support factors that provide kids a foundation from which to grow. Building assets is the Search Institute's framework for healthy development, which is based on 40 critical factors crucial for young people's growth and development.

Since 1989, the Search Institute has measured developmental assets in more than 1 million 6th to 12th graders from various cultures and socioeconomic groups in communities across the United States. To accomplish this, the Institute used the survey "Search Institute Profiles of Student Life: Attitudes and Behaviors."

The Institute found that assets are a significant influence on adolescent behavior, both protecting young people from defiant problem behaviors and promoting positive attitudes and behaviors. While the assets are powerful shapers of adolescents and their choices, too few youth possess enough of these assets. The Search Institute reported that the average person only experienced 18 of 40 assets. Overall, 62 percent of adolescents surveyed experienced fewer than 20 assets. Thus, many adolescents do not possess all of the essential building blocks for healthy development. How can we do better?

Everyone Builds Assets

The good news is everyone can build assets. There are important roles for families, schools, congregations, neighborhoods and community youth organizations to help shape young people's lives.

External Assets

The first 20 assets focus on positive experiences that young people receive from people and institutions in their lives. These assets are broken down into four broad categories:

  • Support - Young people need to experience support, caring and love from their families, friends and neighbors. They need schools and organizations that provide positive supportive environments.
  • Empowerment - Adolescents and children need to feel valued by their community and have opportunities to make contributions too. For this to occur, they must feel safe and secure.
  • Boundaries and Expectations - Clear and consistent expectations are necessary for young people to understand which activities and behaviors are considered acceptable and unacceptable.
  • Constructive Use Of Time - Creative activities, youth programs, congregational involvement, and quality time at home with family are important assets that provide young people with constructive opportunities where they grow.

Internal Assets

Not only do parents and communities help build assets, but they also impact the development of internal assets. These are qualities that guide decision-making, self confidence, purpose, and focus. In a society which offers many options, helping young people to choose wisely is very important.

  • Commitment To Learning - Young people need to develop a lifelong commitment to education and learning.
  • Positive Values - Young people need to develop a strong value system to guide their choices.
  • Social Competency - Youth need competent skills that equip them to make positive choices, build healthy relationships, and succeed in life.
  • Positive Identity - A strong sense of purpose and worth are essential to a young person’s positive future outlook.
  • Social Competency - Youth need competent skills that equip them to make positive choices, build healthy relationships, and succeed in life.
  • Positive Identity - A strong sense of self, purpose, and work are essential to ensure that young people have a positive outlook for the future.

Family Recipe for Building Assets

  1. Spend time together
  2. Appreciate each family member
  3. Participate in enjoyable activities
  4. Play games together
  5. Engage in cooperative activities
  6. Disallow all forms of put-downs
  7. Solve problems constructively
  8. Support the primacy of the family
  9. Show interest in each family member’s interests

Quiz: Are You An Asset Builder?

  1. Do you know the names of kids who live close to your home?
  2. Do you give good eye contact and a solid smile to teens shopping in stores?
  3. Do you volunteer as a mentor to youth in some capacity?
  4. Do you know the names of your children’s friends?

If you answered yes to the above questions, congratulations! You are helping to build assets in young people. We can each make a difference one teen at a time by spending time actively participating in teens' activities. Some of the old proverbs guide us well: "It takes a village to raise a child," and "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!"

Did You Know?

A study by the Search Institute found that the average adolescent reported only experiencing 18 of the 40 assets. Overall, 62 percent of them reported experiencing fewer than 20 assets.

The Search Institute's 20 External Assets

1. Family support
2. Positive family communication
3. Other adult relationships
4. Caring neighborhood
5. Caring school climate
6. Parent involvement in school

7. Community values youth
8. Youth as resources
9. Service to others
10. Safety

Boundaries and Expectations
11. Family boundaries
12. School boundaries
12. Neighborhood boundaries
14. Adult role models
15. Positive peer influences
16. High expectations

Constructive Use Of Time
17. Creative activities
18. Youth programs
19. Religious community
20. Time at home

Copyright © Bellefaire JCB

Learn about Social Advocates for Youth Prevention and Early Intervention Program