40 Developmental Assets for Elementary-Age Children


The following is a framework of 40 developmental assets for children ages 6 to 11 that blends the Search Institute’s research on developmental assets for 12 to 18 year olds.  In parentheses behind some items are a few possible suggestions.



External Assets are those in the community:


1.      Family Support – Family life provides high levels of love and support.

2.      Positive family communication – Parents and child communicate

positively.  Child is willing to seek parent’s advice and counsel.

3.      Other adult relationships – Child receives support from non-parent (Sunday School Teacher, grandparents, Girl/Boy Scout Leaders)

4.      Caring neighborhood – Child experiences caring neighbors (they stop and talk with them, call them by name).

5.      Caring school climate – School provides a caring, encouraging environment.

6.      Parent involvement in schooling. – Parents are actively involved in helping child succeed in school (school open house, parent teacher conferences, helping/assisting teachers if needed).


7.      Community values children – Children feel that the community values and appreciates them (ask their opinion, talk to them).

8.      Children given useful roles – Child is included in family decisions and is given useful roles in the home and community (given them a list of things they can do, IE:  set the table, wash a load of towels, fold towels).

9.      Service to others – The family serves others in the community together (Elementary Boosters, church, volunteering at the local theaters).

10.  Safety – Child has a safe environment at home, at school, and in the neighborhood.

Boundaries & Expectations

11.  Family boundaries – Family has clear rules and consequences and monitors the child’s whereabouts (ask them who their friends are, where they are going, where they have been).

12.  School boundaries – School provides clear rules and consequences.

13.  Neighborhood Boundaries – Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring child’s behavior (We had a neighbor stop and let us know that they saw our son riding our 4 wheeler where he shouldn’t have been and giving the neighbor kids rides.  If our neighbor didn’t stop, we might not have known that this was going on. . Thanks Neighbor!).

14.  Adult role models – Parents and other adult’s model positive, responsible behavior (they take time to stop and talk to kids, ask them questions).

15.  Positive peer interaction – Child plays with children who model responsible behavior (Boy/Girl Scouts, Sunday School).

16.  Expectations for growth – Adults have realistic expectations of development at this age. Parents, caregivers, and other adults encourage child to achieve and develop his or her unique talents (we all have our own talents and we are all different).

Constructive Use of Time

17.  Creative activities –Child participates in music, art, or drama three or more hours each week through home and out-of-home activities (Dance classes, piano lessons, attend middle/high school music/drama programs).

18.  Child programs – Child spends one hour or more per week in extracurricular school or structured community programs (bowling, softball, baseball, basketball, etc).

19.  Religious community – Family attends religious programs or services for at least one hour once a week (Sunday school, Kids Club or other after school activities at your church or other church activities like swimming parties or going skiing).

20.  Positive, supervised time at home –Child spends most evenings and weekends at home with parents in predictable and enjoyable routines (eating meals together, having supper at a certain time, shower/baths at a certain time, bed time at a certain time).

Commitment to Learning

21.  Achievement motivation –Child is motivated to do well in school (praise them when they improve grades or try to do their best).

22.  School engagement – Child is responsive, attentive, and actively engaged in learning.

23.  Homework – Child does homework when it is assigned (set aside a certain place and time to do homework).

24.  Bonding to school – Child cares about his or her school.

25.  Reading for pleasure – Child and a caring adult read together at least 30 minutes a day. Child also enjoys reading without an adult’s involvement (go to the library on a weekly basis).

Positive Values

26.  Caring – Child is encouraged to help other people and to share their possessions.

27.  Equality and social justice – Child begins to show interest in making the community a better place (we were in Des Moines this weekend a guy was stuck in the middle of the intersection and we stopped to help him push his car out of the way . . . didn’t matter who he was or where he was from... but this simple gesture helped him).

28.  Integrity – Child begins to act on convictions and stand up for their beliefs.

29.  Honesty – Child begins to value honesty and act accordingly.

30.  Responsibility – Child begins to accept and take personal responsibility for age-appropriate tasks (takes their own dirty clothes to the washing machine, takes their supper plates to the counter to be washed).

31.  Healthy lifestyle and sexual attitudes – Child beings to value good health habits (encourage them to limit sweets, drink milk, limit soft drinks). Child learns healthy sexual attitudes and beliefs and to respect others.

Social Competencies

32.  Planning and decision-making – Child learns beginning skills of how to plan ahead and make decisions at an appropriate developmental level (picks out clothes for tomorrow).

33.  Interpersonal competence – Child interacts with adults and children and can make friends. Child expresses and articulates feelings in appropriate ways and empathizes with others.

34.  Cultural competence – Child has knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds (doesn’t matter what the color their friends skin is and plays with them).

35.  Resistance skills –Child begins to develop the ability to resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations (encourage your child to understand right from wrong).

36.  Peaceful conflict resolution – Child attempts to resolve conflict nonviolently.

Positive Identity

37.  Personal power – Child begins to feel that they have power over “things that happen to me.” Child begins to manage life’s frustrations and challenges in ways that have positive results for the child and others.

38.  Self-esteem – Child reports have a high self-esteem (praise them as much as possible).

39.  Sense of purpose – Child reports that “my life has a purpose.”  (Encourage them to do their best and that they are important to you).

40.  Positive view of personal future – Child is optimistic about their personal future (what would they like to be when they grow up and to work towards that.  They can do anything and follow their dreams.)


The next article is on 40 Developmental Assets that Teenagers Need to Succeed.


For more information about asset building and Healthy Communities/Healthy Youth, contact Lori Johnson, Tama County Empowerment Coordinator, Tama County Public Health and Home Care, at (641) 484-4788 or 1-866-484-4788.