40 Developmental Assets for Infants and Toddlers


The following is a framework of 40 developmental assets for children from birth to age 2 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 that our community can provide:


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

2.      Positive family communication – Parents communicate with their child in positive ways.  Parents respond immediately to their child and respect their child.

3.      Other adult resources – parents receive support from three or more nonparent adults (grandparents, aunts, uncles) and ask for help when needed.  The child receives love and comfort from at least one nonparent adult.

4.      Caring neighborhood – Children experiences/have caring neighbors.

5.      Caring out-of-home climate – Child is in caring, encouraging environments outside the home (day care, Sunday School).


6.      Parent involvement on out-of-home situations – Parents are actively involved in helping the child succeed in situations outside the home (parent teacher conferences, sports events).

7.      Children valued – The family places the child at the center of family life.

8.      Child has a role in family life – The family involves the child in family life.

9.      Service to others – Parents serve others in the community (church, community organizations).

10.  Safety – Child has a safe environment at home, in out-of-home settings, and in the neighborhood.

Boundaries & Expectations

11.  Family boundaries – Parents are aware of the child’s preferences and adapt the environment to best suit the child’s needs. Parents setting limits as the child becomes mobile (putting covers on electrical sockets, putting door locks on cabinets so they can’t get into poisons).

12.  Out-of-home boundaries – Childcare and other out-of-home environments have clear rules and consequences while consistently providing the child with appropriate stimulation and enough rest.

13.  Neigborhood Boundaries – Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring child’s behavior as the child begins to play and interact outside the home (if you see a child wondering outside their home you let the parents know).

14.  Adult role models – Parents and other adult’s model positive, responsible behavior (talk to them, call them by name).

15.  Positive peer observation – Child observes positive peer interactions of siblings and other children and has opportunities for beginning interactions with children of various ages (things like Sunday School, Story Hour at the Library).

16.  Expectations for growth – Parents are realistic in their expectations of development at this age. Parents encourage development but do not push the child beyond their own pace.

Constructive Use of Time

17.  Creative activities – Parents daily expose the child to music, art, or other creative activities (attend middle/high school music programs).

18.  Out-of-home activities – Parents expose the child to limited but stimulating situations outside the home. Family attends events with the child’s needs in mind (Summer reading programs or story hours at the libraries).

19.  Religious community – Family attends religious programs or services on a regular basis with keeping the child’s needs in mind (Sunday School and church or other church family activities).

20.  Positive, supervised time at home – Parent supervises the child at all times and provides predictable and enjoyable routines at home (supper time at a certain time, bath time at a certain time, bed time at a certain time).

Commitment to Learning

21.  Achievement expectation – Family members are motivated to do well at work, school, and in the community and model this to the child.

22.  Engagement expectation – The family models responsive and attentive attitudes at work, school, in the community, and at home.

23.  Stimulating activity – Parents encourage the child to explore and provide stimulating toys that match the child’s emerging skills. (Age appropriate toys) Parents are sensitive to the child’s level of development and tolerance for movement, sounds, and duration of activity.

24.  Enjoyment of learning – Parents enjoy learning, and demonstrate this through their own learning activities.

25.  Reading for pleasure – Parents read to the child daily in enjoyable ways (Go to the library on a weekly basis).

Positive Values

26.  Family values caring – Parents convey their own beliefs about helping others through modeling their helping behaviors.

27.  Family values equality and social justice – Parents place a high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty and model these beliefs.

28.  Family values integrity – Parents act on convictions and stand up for their beliefs and communicate and model this in the family.

29.  Family values honesty – Parents tell the truth and convey their belief in honesty through their actions.

30.  Family values responsibly – Parents accept and take responsibility.

31.  Family values a healthy lifestyle and sexual attitudes – Parents love the child, setting the foundation for the child to develop healthy sexual attitudes and beliefs. Parents model, monitor, and teach the importance of good health habits, such as providing good nutritional choices and adequate rest and playtime.

Social Competencies

32.  Planning and decision-making observation – Parents make all the safety and care decisions for the child and then model these behaviors (make sure they have their winter coats, hats & mittens on when it’s cold outside). Parents allow the child to make simple choices as the child becomes more independently mobile.

33.  Interpersonal oberservation – Parents model positive and constructive interactions with other people. Parents accept and are responsive to the child’s expression of feelings, interpreting those expressions as cue’s of the child’s needs.

34.  Cultural observation – Parents have knowledge of and are comfortable with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds and model this to the child. (My great nephew, when he was little... he’s now in college...  once asked me what an Indian was.  He knew I had lived here most of my life and went to school here with some.   I mentioned a co-worker I had at that time and had him meet her.  He didn’t see any difference in this person; neither did I.  All the difference he saw as her skin was a different color, nothing more.  I also remember the song from Sunday school . . . Jesus loves all the little children. . . They are precious in his sight. . . Jesus loves the little children of the world)

35.  Resistance observation – Parents model resistance skills by their own behaviors. Parents are not overwhelmed by the child’s needs and thereby demonstrate appropriate resistance skills.

36.  Peaceful conflict resolution observation – Parents behave in acceptable, non-violent ways and assist the child to develop these skills when faced with challenging or frustrating circumstances by helping the child solve problems.

Positive Identity

37.  Family has personal power – Parents feel they have control over things that happen to them and model coping skills, demonstrating healthy ways to deal with frustrations and challenges.

38.  Family models high self-esteem – Parents model high self-esteem and create an environment where the child can develop positive self-esteem, giving the child positive feedback and reinforcement about skills and competencies (giving them a small job to do like carrying the milk to the table and then thanking them and praising them for a good job that they did).

39.  Family has a sense of purpose – Parents report that their lives have purpose and model these beliefs through their behaviors.

40.  Family has a positive view of the future – Parents are optimistic about their personal future and work to provide a positive future for the child.


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.