All kids need specific assets in their lives – not financial assets, but Developmental Assets such as family support, a caring school and self-esteem. The more assets young people have, the more likely they are to lead successful, healthy lives.
For more than 50 years, Search Institute® has been a leader and partner for organizations around the world in discovering what kids need to succeed. Their research, resources, and expertise help partners in organizations, schools, and community coalitions solve critical challenges in the lives of young people. The Search Institute has identified building blocks of healthy development—known as Developmental Assets—that help young children grow up healthy, caring, and responsible. Developmental Assets® are positive factors within young people, families, communities, schools, and other settings that research has found to be important in promoting the healthy development of young people.
Today I’d like to focus on Asset #8 of the 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents, Youth as Resources, and offer some suggestions on how to build these assets at home and in the community. (This particular list is intended for adolescents, age 12-18)
Asset #8 Youth as Resources – Young people are given useful roles in the community.
- Involve your children in family decisions. Ask for their input and advice. Take their interests, talents and opinions seriously.
- Hold family meetings. For example, one meeting can focus on discussing which kinds of tasks each household member is best at and enjoys the most. Then, review everyone’s current chores and make changes based on each other’s skills and interests.
- Ask your children to help you plan family reunions, family outings, or neighborhood gatherings. For family events, young people can help plan menus and cook, or plan games and activities for younger children; for vacations, they can research destinations and activities.
- Provide your children with age appropriate roles that contribute to your family’s well-being. For example – planning and preparing meals, doing meaningful chores, helping younger siblings with homework, helping adults with significant tasks. Remind them often that their roles are important to the family as a whole.
- Instead of only buying gifts for birthdays and holidays, commission your children to make some gifts.
- Use some of your home projects as teaching opportunities. For example, with your child, build a birdhouse, fix a bike, paint a room, or plant a garden.
- Ask your child to teach you something – current slang, a hobby, how to play a video game or to share their favorite music or YouTube videos with you. It’s empowering to be able to introduce adults to something that they don’t already know.
- Talk with your kids about their talents and abilities. What do they think they’re good at? What do you think they’re good at? Together, come up with ways they can share their gifts with others.
- Encourage youth to mentor their peers. Teach them how they can help other youth by listening to them and helping them work through their problems.
Want to know more about the 40 Developmental Assets and ideas for helping young people build them? Visit www.search-institute.org/assets.
For more on this topic, see Empowering Youth: How to Encourage Young Leaders to do Great Things by Kelly Curtis
Benson, Peter L., Judy Galbraith, and Pamela Espeland. What Kids Need to Succeed: Proven, Practical Ways to Raise Good Kids. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Pub., 1998. Print.