• Brendan Sheerin, M.Ed.

What Does Your Child Need To Succeed?

The Search Institute has identified the following building blocks of healthy development—known as Developmental Assets—that help young children grow up as healthy, caring, and responsible individuals.

These apply to all children, including your challenged child.

As you think about building a strategic plan, reference to these assets will be invaluable.

Tick each asset that you observe in your child.

EXTERNAL ASSETS- The supports, opportunities, and relationships young people need across all aspects of their lives.

Support: Young people need to be surrounded by people who love, care, appreciate, and accept them.

  1. A family that provides high levels of love and support

  2. The communication between parent and child is strong

  3. Child is willing to seek advice from the parents

  4. Your child has three or more non-parent adults to turn to for advice

  5. Neighbors are caring and share community values

  6. The school climate is positive and encouraging

  7. Parents are actively involved in school in positive ways.

Empowerment: Young people need to feel valued and valuable. This happens when youth feel safe and respected.

  1. The community values children

  2. Your child is allowed to play a useful role

  3. The child values community service by providing one hour a month of help.

  4. Your child feels safe at home, school, and in the wider community

Boundaries and Expectations- Young people need clear rules, consistent consequences for breaking rules, and encouragement to do their best.

  1. Family rules are consistent and fair, as are the consequences.

  2. School rules are consistent and fair, as are the consequences.

  3. Parents and other adults model behavior for the child

  4. Child’s peers engage in positive behaviors

  5. School and home have reasonable expectations of the child

Constructive Use of Time- Young people need opportunities—outside of school—to learn and develop new skills and interests with other youth and adults.

  1. Child spends several hours weekly in personal activities not related to school

  2. Your child has ample time to engage in activities not organized by adults

  3. Play is an important aspect of your child’s life

  4. Your child spends several structured hours a week in church, youth group, scouts.

INTERNAL ASSETS- The personal skills, commitments, and values they need to make good choices, take responsibility for their own lives, and be independent and fulfilled.

Commitment to Learning-Young people need a sense of the lasting importance of learning and a belief in their own abilities.

  1. Child likes school and wishes to do well

  2. The student is active engaged in his/her own education

  3. Young child is willing to do homework

  4. Child cares about their school and is proud to attend

  5. Your child reads for pleasure.

Positive Values-Young people need to develop strong guiding values or principles to help them make healthy life choices.

  1. Your child cares for others: people and/or animals

  2. The child understands that others are less fortunate

  3. Your child has developing values and can articulate what they are

  4. The child is (a) Honest and (B) Responsible

  5. Can delay gratification

Social Competencies-Young people need the skills to interact effectively with others, to make difficult decisions, and to cope with new situations.

  1. Knows how to plan and to make a decision

  2. Shows empathy

  3. Is comfortable with diversity of people and ideas.

  4. Child shows an ability to make independent decisions

  5. Your child can resolve issues with parents and others in a respectful manner.

Positive Identity-Young people need to believe in their own self-worth and to feel that they have control over the things that happen to them

  1. Your child has control over his/her school and family life

  2. Your child feels good about him/herself

  3. Your child understands that he/she has value in the family, school, community

  4. Your child is optimistic

  5. Your child is fun to be with!


1. Add up the scores.

2. List the sections from strongest to weakest.

3. Which assets are especially strong?

4. Which assets are especially weak.

5. Contact us at on how to make improvement happen.

Family support—Family life provides high levels

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