Parents, have you heard of the developmental assets? I was recently introduced and quickly learned that they are the building blocks to healthy development. I could instantly see that they played a huge role in my upbringing, and I believe it was a key factor in my resiliency.
Developmental Assets were discovered and researched by this brilliant organization called Search Institute. Search integrated character building, youth development, and prevention in a framework of 40 building blocks. These 40 splits into two categories: internal factors and external factors, each category is broken down into four areas. This framework is called the 40 Developmental Assets. Clever name, right? Search Institutes’ work around the Developmental Assets is one of the most utilized and referenced worldwide; which is impressive.
Whew, that was a lot! I get it, a “mom brain” can only handle so much. Breaking it down to simple terms: they are protective factors. We have all heard of risk factors for practically everything. Some of the population is at greater risk for health disparities, substance abuse, violence, depression, and the list goes on. Everything I have listed, plus more, can be positively impacted by building developmental assets in our youth. Yep, you read that right! The risk for youths’ health disparities, substance abuse, violence, and depression can all be significantly decreased just by having a solid foundation of assets. The more you have the better. Learn more from Search about their findings.
Learning about the assets was mind-blowing for me, and it got me to reflect on my youth-hood. All of the statistics and research I was reading were confirming my own experience of overcoming various obstacles. Obstacles such as homelessness, racism, violence, and extreme poverty, to name a few. Besides the safety net the developmental assets provided me, I feel like the more valuable takeaway is using the developmental assets in my parenting. As a mom, I worry about how the world is going to treat my kids, and how they are going to handle the unfair challenges our modern world has to offer. But with the developmental assets framework, there is comfort in knowing that I can play a role in giving them a protective barrier that will dull harmful effects.
I am not saying that my kids won’t experience hardships or even adversity. I am saying that I am giving them armor that will change HOW they experience those hardships. It’s an advantage that will also support my kiddos’ ability to overcome and bounce back. And by getting other key figures in my kids’ lives to build assets makes the likelihood of negative effects to decrease as well.
Building developmental assets are proactive and getting ahead of many issues, it is prevention at its core. Read through this checklist to reflect on your experience and possibly generate ideas on what to try in your family because no matter your upbringing or current situation, anyone can be an asset builder!