I have loved being around the teenagers in my life. For many of these kids, life has not been easy and I have hoped that they have been able to find a safe harbor in our home. Having a place to go and adults to count on are what the Search Institute calls external “Developmental Assets.”
For many teens today, these assets aren’t always easy to come by. External developmental assets include “relationships, experiences, and opportunities provided by nuclear and extended families, caring adults and peers, neighborhoods, and institutions within communities.” (http://www.search-institute.org/assets/40AssetsList.pdf)
The Search Institute recommends several ways for adults to build an adolescent’s developmental assets. These include helping them find activities to make constructive use of their time; empowering them to use their abilities to help others; and sparking their commitment to learning.
However, “only a small percentage of adults are deeply engaged in promoting the healthy development of young people outside their own families, according to two startling studies by the Institute (2000, 2002). According to this research, there is a disconnect between what adults claim to be their priorities in influencing children and what they actually are doing about it, especially when those children are not their own – even if they’re neighbors.
However, the Search Institute’s research highlights how important it is for caring adults to support teens and give them the skills to overcome many obstacles and develop qualities that will help them become caring, responsible adults.
Listening, learning and living together, it’s the science of life. “Family Album” is a co-production of University of Florida IFAS Extension, the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences and of WUFT-FM. If you’d like to learn more, please visit our website at familyalbumradio.org.
40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents (ages 12-18), (2006), Search Institute, retrieved on January 29, 2007 online at http://www.search-institute.org/assets/40AssetsList.pdf and http://www.search-institute.org/assets/
“Grading Grown-Ups 2002: How do American kids and adults relate?” (2002), Search Institute. Retrieved on January 31, 2007 online at http://www.search-institute.org/norms/ and http://www.search-institute.org/norms/gg2002.pdf