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Developmental Assets®

Build assets in all kids,

not just your own

  • All kids need assets
  • Relationships are key
  • Everyone has strengths
  • We need to work together to build assets

What are developmental assets®?

  • Developmental assets® are the positive experiences that all children need in order to reach their full potential.
  • Studies of more than 2.2 million young people consistently show that the more assets young people have, the less likely they are to engage in a wide range of high-risk behaviours and the more likely they are to thrive.

About Development Assets®

  • There are 40 assets (external link) in total.
  • These assets are divided into two categories:
      1. External assets are developed when children feel connected to others; in their home, at school, in their neighbourhood and community. The first four external asset categories include:
        • Support
        • Empowerment
        • Boundaries and Expectations
        • Constructive Use of Time
      2. Internal assets are the values and skills that children develop and take up within themselves. The next four internal asset categories include:
        • Commitment to Learning
        • Positive Values
        • Social Competencies
        • Positive Identity


  • Show your kids how much you love and care for them by spending time together, asking their opinions, and setting boundaries.
  • Eighty percent of 15-year-olds say that adults who “get them” are adults who listen to them. Take the time to listen.
  • Start a “thought sharing” tradition. At a meal, bedtime, or another time when there are few distractions, get in the habit of sharing one thing about your day, something interesting you each thought of, a hope or a dream, or another open-ended topic.
  • Accept that you cannot always solve your kids’ problems, but let them know that you intend to stick by them through thick and thin.


  • Encourage your children to take one small step toward changing something they’d like to do differently.
  • Talk with your kids about how and why they need to speak up for themselves and resist those who encourage them to try unsafe behaviours. Practice what to do in difficult situations.

Boundaries and expectations

  • When setting boundaries, focus on what you expect rather than what you don’t want. It’s a simple switch from saying that you don’t want homework left until the last minute, to explaining that you expect it to be completed before your kids move on to other activities.
  • Remember you are an important role model for your children. Children are always watching you, and they’ll learn how to prepare and deal with last-minute demands by the way you handle them.

Constructive use of time

  • Get involved in youth activities that you’re passionate about (such as soccer or playing an instrument). Young people need passionate adults who can get to know them and talk about subjects that matter to them.
  • Have fun while you learn something new together this summer! Sign up for a family activity through your parks and recreation department, community education program, or nature center.

Commitment to learning

  • Teach your child to take all aspects of school seriously. That includes learning in the classroom and taking tests.
  • The next time your child seems inspired by a teacher or a subject in school, write that teacher a note or e-mail to say thanks for helping your child learn and develop.

Positive values

  • Teach your kids that everybody has personal values, even though others’ may be different from their own.
  • Showing your kids that you care about helping others sets a powerful example. Decide on a percentage of your income that you will give each month and, with your child, pick which nonprofit organizations, schools, or charitable causes you will give to.

Social competencies

  • Promote peace in your household by reminding your child that it starts with each one of us. Teach problem solving and getting along with others early in life.
  • The next time one of your kids lashes out at you, don’t lash back. Say that the matter can be discussed later, when everyone has calmed.

Positive identity

  • Point out to your children that in any situation not making a choice is making a choice—it’s choosing not to choose. Explain how this gives someone else the power to determine what happens next.
  • Go along with one of the big dreams your kids have. You never know what might happen.
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