Ideas to Start Building Assets Now


You don’t have to take on a major new commitment to build assets.  To get started, pick an idea from the “Getting Started” column or look over the list of “Ways You Can Show Kids You Care”. 



Getting Started

Taking It Further

Infants and toddlers

(Birth to 35 months)

·        Celebrate when a baby is born.

·        Take time to play with them at their eye level.

·        Expose toddlers to positive values and skills by modeling and teaching them to clean up, share toys, and be nice to other people.

·        Start reading to them right away.

·        Provide caring, stimulating, and safe environments (ie:  have age-appropriate toys, use safety devices on electrical outlets).

·        Offer to help a parent by caring for their child (giving the parent a break) or by doing other things that would ease the parent’s stress.


(Ages 3 to 5)

·        Get down on their eye level when talking to them.

·        Play catch, tag, hide ‘n’ seek, or other games together.

·        Ask them to tell you things they’ve done or seen.

·        Read books to them.

·        Take them to museums, concerts, arts events, festivals, and other cultural events that welcome children.

·        Be an example of how to act-don’t just tell them what to do or not do.

Elementary-Age Children

(Ages 6 to 11)

·        Send them letters, e-mail, or newspaper clippings on subjects that interest them.

·        Let them read books to you.

·        Encourage them to use their words rather than actions to express their needs, worries, or fears.

·        Volunteer to lead a scouting, drama, music, or other program or activity.

·        Invite them to be a part of service projects you do in your family, school, congregations, or community.


(Age 12 to 18)

·        Greet them when you see them. Ask how they are doing.

·        Congratulate kids when they accomplish something.

·        Ask for their opinions or perspectives.

·        Spend time as a mentor, coach, or other youth leader.

·        Invite neighborhood teenagers to “hang out” in you home (when you’re there). Take time to chat with them.

·        Advocate for youth having safe places to spend time with friends in the community.




Ways You Can Show Kids You Care


The following is a list of ways that you can Show Kids You Care:


Notice them.  Smile a lot.  Acknowledge them. Learn their names.  Seek them out. Remember their birthdays.  Ask them about themselves.  Look in their eyes when you talk to them.  Listen to them. Play with them.  Read aloud together.  Giggle together.  Be nice.  Say yes a lot.  Tell them their feelings are okay.  Set boundaries that keeps them safe.  Be honest.  Be yourself.  Listen to their stories.  Hug them.  Forget your worries sometimes and concentrate only on them.  Notice when they’re acting differently.  Present options when they seek your counsel.  Play outside together.  Surprise them.  Stay with them when they’re afraid.  Invite them over for juice.  Suggest better behaviors when they act out.  Feed them when they’re hungry.  Delight in their discoveries.  Share their excitement.  Send them a letter or postcard.  Follow them when they lead.  Notice when they’re absent.  Call them to say hello.  Hide surprises for them to find.  Give them space when they need it. Contribute to their collections.  Discuss their dreams and nightmares.  Laugh at their jokes.  Be relaxed. Kneel, squat, or sit so you’re at their eye level. Answer their questions. Tell them how terrific they are.  Create a tradition with them and keep it.  Learn what they have to teach. Use your ears more than your mouth. Make yourself available.  Show up at their concerts, games, and events.  Find a common interest.  Hold hands during a walk.  Apologize when you’ve done something wrong. Listen to their favorite music with them.  Keep the promises you make. Wave and smile when you part.  Display their artwork in your home.  Thank them. Point out what you like about them.  Clip magazine pictures or articles that interest them, Give them lots of compliments.  Catch them doing something right. Encourage win-win solutions. Give them your undivided attention.  Ask for their opinion.  Have fun together. Be curious with them.  Introduce them to your friends and family.  Tell them how much you like being with them.  Let them solve most of their own problems.  Meet their friends.  Meet their parents.  Let them tell you how they feel.  Help them become an expert at something.  Be excited when you see them.  Tell them about yourself.  Let them act their age.  Praise more; criticize less.  Be consistent.  Admit when you make a mistake. Enjoy your time together.  Give them a special nickname. Marvel at what they can do.  Tell them how proud you are of them. Pamper them. Unwind together. Be happy.  Ask them to help you.  Support them.  Applaud their successes.  Deal with problems and conflicts while they’re still small.  Chaperone a dance.  Tell them stories in which they are the hero. Believe in them.  Nurture them with good food, good words, and good fun.  Be flexible.  Delight in their uniqueness.  Let them make mistakes.  Notice when they grown. Wave and honk when you drive by them. Give them immediate feedback. Include them in conversations.  Respect them.  Join in their adventures.  Visit their schools.  Help them learn something new.  Be understanding when they have a difficult day.  Give them good choices.  Respect the choices they make.  Be silly together.  Hang out together.  Make time to be with them.  Inspire their creativity.  Accept them as they are.  Become their advocate.  Appreciate their individuality.  Talk openly with them.  Tolerate their interruptions.  Trust them.  Share a secret.  Write a chalk message on their sidewalk.  Create a safe, open environment.  Be available. Cheer their accomplishments.  Encourage them to help others.  Tackle new tasks together. Believe what they say.  Help them take a stand and stand with them. Daydream with them.  Do what they like to do.  Make decisions together.  Magnify their magnificence.  Build something together.  Encourage them to think big.  Celebrate their firsts and lasts, such as the first day of school.  Go places together.  Welcome their suggestions.  Visit them when they’re sick.  Tape-record a message for them. Help them learn from mistakes.  Be sincere.  Introduce them to people of excellence.  Tell them what you expect of them.  Give them your phone number.  Introduce them to new experiences.  Share a meal together.  Talk directly together. Be spontaneous.  Expect their best; don’t expect perfection. Empower them to help and be themselves. Love them, no matter what.



Be an Asset for Kids

There are many ways to build assets. Here are five steps that can help you focus on how you’ll build assets for children and youth.


Act Now

            Don’t wait until you have more time, more skills, and more opportunities. Take a fresh look at how you can use the little opportunities that come up in your everyday routine.


Share your Strengths

            You already have gifts, talents, interests, and traits that can be valuable for asset building. Identify those and start sharing them with kids.


Stretch Yourself

            It’s good to start with things that fit into your everyday routine, but don’t stop there. As you get more comfortable building assets, find ways to make it a more intentional, focused part of your life.



            Try something new.

Tell Others About It

            The more people know about assets and start intentionally building them, the better communities will be for kids.





The next series of articles will be about Ideas For Parents.


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.