Developmental Assets

Developmental Assets are the building blocks young people need for healthy development. The Search Institute has been researching assets for 40 years. Both Internal and External assets exist and affect the lives of youth. The Institute’s research explains that the more assets someone has, the more positive choices they make.

Developmental Assets protect youth against unhealthy behaviors like sexual activity, substance use and abuse, antisocial behavior, violence, problems in school, depression, and gambling. Youth with fewer assets are less likely to engage in positive behaviors.

External Assets


  1. Family Support – Family life provides high levels of love and support.
  2. Positive family communication – Parent(s) and children communicate positively. The child feels comfortable seeking advice and counsel from parent(s).
  3. Other adult relationships – The child receives support from adults other than her or his parent(s).
  4. Caring neighborhood – The child experiences caring neighbors.
  5. Caring school climate – Relationships with teachers and peers provide a caring, encouraging school environment.
  6. Parent involvement in schooling – Parent(s) are actively involved in helping the child succeed in school.


  1. Community values children – The child feels valued and appreciated by adults in the community.
  2. Children as resources – The child is included in decisions at home and in the community.
  3. Service to others – The child has opportunities to help others in the community.
  4. Safety – The child feels safe at home, at school, and in her or his neighborhood.


  1. Family boundaries – The family has clear and consistent rules and consequences and monitors the child’s whereabouts.
  2. School boundaries – School provides clear rules and consequences.
  3. Neighborhood boundaries – Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring the child’s behavior.
  4. Adult role models – Parent(s) and other adults in the child’s family, as well as nonfamily adults, model positive and responsible behaviors.
  5. Positive peer influence – The child’s closest friends model positive and responsible behaviors.
  6. High expectations – Parent(s) and teachers expect the child to do her or his best at school and in other activities.


  1. Creative activities – The child participates in music, art, drama, or creative writing two or more times per week.
  2. Child programs – The child participates two or more times per week in co-curricular school activities or structured community programs for children.
  3. Religious community – The child attends religious programs or services one or more times per week.
  4. Time at home – The child spends most days both in high-quality interaction with parents and doing things at home other than watching TV or playing video games.

Internal Assets


  1. Achievement motivation – Child is motivated and strives to do well in school.
  2. Learning engagement – Child is responsive, attentive, and actively engaged in learning at school and enjoys participating in learning activities outside of school.
  3. Homework – Child usually hand in homework on time.
  4. Bonding to adults at school – Child cares about teachers and other adults at school.
  5. Reading for pleasure – Child enjoys and engages in reading for fun most days of the week.


  1. Caring – Parent(s) tell the child is it important to help other people.
  2. Equality and social justice – Parent(s) tell the child it is important to speak up for equal right for all people.
  3. Integrity – Parent(s) tell the child it is important to stand up for one’s beliefs.
  4. Honesty – Parent(s) tell the child it is important to tell the truth.
  5. Responsibility – Parent(s) tell the child it is important to accept personal responsibility for behavior.
  6. Healthy lifestyle – Parent(s) tell the child is it important to have good health habits and an understanding of healthy sexuality.


  1. Planning and decision making – Child thinks about decisions and is usually happy with results of her or his decisions.
  2. Interpersonal competence – Child cares about and is affected by other people’s feelings, enjoys making friends, and when frustrated or angry, tried to calm her or himself.
  3. Cultural competence – Child knows and is comfortable with people of different racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds and with her or his own cultural identity.
  4. Resistance skills – Child can stay away from people who are likely to get her or him in trouble and is able to say no to do wrong or dangerous things.
  5. Peaceful conflict resolution – Child attempts to resolve conflict nonviolently.


  1. Personal power – Child feels he or she has some influence over things that happen in her or his life.
  2. Self- Esteem – Child likes and is proud to be the person he or she is.
  3. Sense of purpose – Child sometimes thinks about what life means and whether there is a purpose for her or his life.
  4. Positive view of personal future – Child is optimistic about her or his personal future.
Scroll to Top